Invasive coffee berry borers confirmed on Maui

Coffee berry borer (Photo: Department of Agriculture)

For the first time, an invasive pest known to destroy coffee crops has been confirmed on Maui.

The coffee berry borer (CBB) was detected in December 2016 on a 13-acre coffee farm in Kipahulu.

A neighbor reported it and entomologists at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) confirmed that it was CBB. The University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH-CTAHR) on Maui says the entire farm was infested, which indicates the infestation had been there for some time.

“They’ve stopped doing tours because people would be walking through their farm. They may be coming from another farm and this beetle is a hitchhiker, so if it gets attached to people’s clothing, it could easily be taken to another area,” said John McHugh with the Department of Agriculture.

Earlier in November 2016, a Hana resident contacted the state about CBB in two backyard coffee trees. The trees were stripped of all coffee berries and fallen cherries were collected and frozen to kill CBB. HDOA continues to monitor CBB traps at that site.

The Kipahulu farm and the Hana residence are about 12 miles apart. It is not known if the two infestations are related.

HDOA surveys have been conducted in West Maui, Iao Valley, and Waikapu. CBB has not been detected in those areas.

HDOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch is also working on expanding quarantine protocol for movement of coffee plants and plant parts from Maui to uninfested areas.

“Despite strict quarantine rules that have been established on the interisland movement of coffee plants and plant parts from Hawaii Island, CBB infestations have been extremely difficult to contain,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We ask that coffee growers continue to be vigilant and learn about CBB and how infestations can be detected and managed.”

UH-CTAHR, HDOA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be holding two Maui workshops on Monday, Jan. 9, at Kula Community Center on East Lower Kula Road to provide information to coffee farmers and other interested parties:

  • 10:00 a.m. – noon – CBB 101 (General information on CBB)
  • 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. – CBB Update (Information on CBB research and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies)

Registration is required. Click here for more information on the workshops and to register.

One of the most devastating coffee pests, CBB was first detected in the state in September 2010 in Kona and discovered in Kau in May 2011. In Dec. 2014, it was discovered on Oahu.

This small beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean. Since its detection in Kona, Big Island coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which include using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestations down to about 20 percent of the coffee crop.

Click here for more information on coffee berry borers in Hawaii.

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