Coffee Berry Borer Meets Its Match in Fungus

December 20, 2010

For years the Coffee Berry Borer (CBB) has been plaguing Hawaiian coffee farmers. The Kona farmers had noticed that the dry years brought on the worst borer damage and now they know why. Turns out that a fungus has been lurking among the coffee trees and it spells bad news for the Berry Borer. So when the weather is wet, the fungus increased and the borer decreased. In short, the two seemed to neutralize each other.

At least 21 farms in Kona have been struck by the Coffee Berry Borer, and in some of the most badly hit farms the damage has reached 60 to 70 percent of the crop. This is due, they now realize, to the present drought.

The Hawaiian coffee farmers have not wanted to use non-biological insecticides on the Berry Borer, so now they’ve been given an organic gift. This has brought new hope to the farmers that they do not face the destruction of the coffee industry after all. They just need more rain.

Scientists are trying to figure out how to control the fungus so it grows in more areas where the Coffee Berry Borer has taken up residence. Once they have that figured out, or the rains return, Hawaiian organic coffee could be back up to pre-drought levels and everyone, except the CBB, would be happy again.

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