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Harvesting Kalo

The main uses for kalo in Hawaiʻi is lūʻau leaf and the corm. One is harvested off the live plant, one is harvested by digging the plant up.

Harvesting the Corm

Harvesting kalo as a root crop is done by digging the plant out of the ground. The process of harvesting is called “pulling” taro, even though you can’t usually just pull it out of the ground.

Using a shovel, push the blade into the ground, straight down, a few inches from the outermost ʻohā. Leverage the kalo out of the ground by doing this in several locations around the plant, depending on how soft your soil is.

Once the roots are loosened, you can pull the plant out of the ground and begin processing it for huli and food.

There are basically three things that you need to accomplish. They can be done in any order.

Clean as much dirt off the corm as you can with your fingers and pull off as many roots as are practical. You’ll clean it better in the next part of the process.


Cut the leaves off just above the rib on the inside of the stalk. A serrated sickle or knife is great for this. Just whip it through the air and slice through the hā as you hold the plant.


Cut the corm off of the stalk at the kōhina – just below the transition between corm and stalk. Again, you can use a serrated sickle or a knife.

By leaving a little bit of the top of the corm on the stalk, you’ll be able to replant the huli. If you cut off too much, it won’t grow. But also, if you leave too much (1/4″+), it can rot the bottom of your taro.


You’re left with three pieces of the plant: the leaves, the huli, and the corm.

The leaves at this stage are, not to my knowledge, used for lūʻau. They can be composted, though it’s good to keep them away from other taro growing locations to avoid the possibility of spreading leaf blight.

The huli and the corm now need to be cleaned further.

Most people remove all but two stalks from their huli. Make it nice and clean down by peeling the stalk off at its base. Wash off all dirt and bugs and dead stack remnants. Rinse out the gap between the stalks. Go the extra mile if the huli is leaving your property so that you’re not spreading pests to other locations.

Cleaning the corm consists of washing off as much mud as possible with water and pulling off the remaining root pieces. You might also find rotten spots that you can cut off to save gross surprises from the cooking stage.

Kalo corms can be a serious skin irritant! Imagine getting 100 bad mosquito bites on your hands. It can be really miserable for 30 minutes or so after working with it, depending on the calcium oxalate content of the variety.

Some people recommend rubbing oil on your hands to keep the calcium crystals from being a problem. Most others just suck it up. Working under running water can help wash away the irritants, as opposed to working out of a bucket where they build up in the water.

Once the corm is cleaned and your huli are set somewhere shady, ready for planting, you can move on to cooking the kalo for consumption.

Harvesting Lūʻau Leaf