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EPAMIG: Weather and Disease '18'19

Epamig: Dry, Cold Weather Needed for 18-19 Coffee Crop to Avoid Further Pest and Disease Outbreak

CoffeeNetwork (New York) – The outbreak of broca, or the coffee borer beetle, has been considered very serious in some areas and has caused both economic and productive losses, increasing defects and causing smaller bean size resulting in lower yields, Coffee Research Program Coordinator, Dr. César Botelho, with The Agriculture Research Company of Minas Gerais (EPAMIG) told CoffeeNetwork in an interview today.

“It is hard to measure the exact number of how much coffee has been affected, but I believe the average for the state of Minas Gerais is 15%, with more than 50% incidence in the warmer areas with irrigated crops,” he explained.

Overall, losses from the borer beetle are expected to be between 3 to 5%.

Other losses of around 15-20% from initial forecasts have also been reported, “but this was already expected due to the Indian summer we experienced in December and February,” he says. “The lack of rainfall during that time caused significant damage.”

In some extreme cases, such as in the city of Cabo Verde in southern Minas Gerais, losses amount to around 35%. This city was expected to have a larger crop in 2017 in comparison to 2016.

In their last survey of the 2017-2018 crop, Brazil’s National Supply Company, CONAB, forecast Minas Gerais to produce around 26 million 60-kg bags.

Major concerns now lie in the potential for the borer beetle to continue to impact Brazil’s 2018-2019 crop. Weather will be a major factor in determining whether the outbreak continues to worsen.

The recent outbreak has been attributed to weather conditions which have been favorable for the spread of the beetle, such as high temperatures and rainfall during the intercrop (spring), “Although at this time conditions, for the next crop are expected to unfavorable for the pest, with cold and dry weather,” noted Botelho.

“Crop conditions had been good up until early July: good leafiness and good vegetative growth, projecting an excellent crop for next year,” Botelho said. “However, in the last few days we have seen sharp defoliation probably caused by a more severe winter, despite no frosts – it has been cold, especially when followed by winds, which is detrimental to coffee plants. We have also had very large temperature ranges this winter, which damages coffee plants as well.”

He also notes that roya, the coffee leaf rust disease, continues to damage coffee trees. “The outbreak happened late, as harvesting was already taking place, which makes it harder to control (products application and acting period). The occurrence of rust exacerbates defoliation, so there could be crop failure in the 2018/19 cycle.”

Alexis Rubinstein