Maize in Hawaii goes back to the missionary era. It was limited to highland cultivation in the 19th century because of tropical lowland diseases. Then plant breeding techniques mastered in the 20th century provided genetic resistance to the disease.
The predecessor of today’s seed industry began as winter nurseries on Molokai in the 1960s. In 1971, Dr. James Brewbaker founded the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association (HCIA) on Molokai as an offshoot of the Corn Research Program at the University of Hawaii College of Agriculture. Today, HCIA is a nonprofit trade association representing the agricultural seed industry in Hawaii.