Plagues, Pestilence, and Pandemics … Oh My!

What now? Coffee leaf rust. This highly infectious plant disease has bedeviled all major coffee growing areas in the world, but Hawaii state had remained untouched until over a week ago. Unfortunately, it’s been found in quite a few acres in Maui, both on a managed coffee farm and a wild coffee area. On this island, we’ve been warned and reminded not to bring in any green beans, plant matter, etc. from other islands. But shortly after learning of Maui, we heard there’s an area in Hilo, east Hawaii island, where there’s suspected coffee leaf rust (CLR).

The sentiment is that the coffee farming community was a little behind in fighting against coffee berry borer (CBB) beetle. With CLR, the sense is we can stay ahead of the problem. I know I’ve heard about the problem from multiple angles, how to report, what to do, etc. We have to be vigilant and try to be optimistic.

From experience gained in other areas of the world, the best way to control is by planting trees that are resistant to CLR. We don’t yet have these types of trees. In the meantime working with the trees we have, a consultant writing to the Kona Coffee Farmers Association shared strategies to help achieve the goal:

The goal is keep coffee leaves healthy and clean from CLR during the early coffee season (March – July ) when berries are growing and support the growing of foliage all time. 

Luis F. Aristizabal, independent consultant

Here are a few links for more info:

The more easily consumable story from Daily Coffee News.

The nitty gritty from the Coffee Ed site, an amazing resource for coffee farmers. I really admire and thank them for how quickly they’ve gotten this info up on the web.

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