WAIALUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii Board of Agriculture has voted unanimously to expand its quarantine order on the coffee berry borer to cover the entire island of Oahu.
The expanded order took effect Wednesday.
The original order, on Dec. 17, covered only coffee grown at Dole's Waialua Estate Coffee Farms as well as coffee roasted at the Old Waialua Sugar Mill.
At the time officials said inspections of small coffee farms all over Oahu had turned up no other sign of the tiny bug.
Now officials report it has been spotted at farms in Wahiawa and Poamohu.
Under the quarantine restrictions, coffee growers need a permit from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to transport unroasted coffee beans, coffee plants, plant parts, used coffee bags or any coffee harvesting equipment to any non-infested areas. Beans must be treated before shipment.
"The coffee beans must also be roasted at a facility that is at least five miles from any commercial coffee-growing area," HDOA said.
Until recently the coffee berry borer had been found only on the Big Island, where it has become prevalent in Kona and Ka'u coffee groves. The pest has not been found on Maui, Molokai or Kauai coffee farms.
"Expanding the coffee quarantine safeguards to cover Oahu is an important step in helping to keep other coffee-growing islands free," said Board Chairman Scott Enright.
Hawaii is the last coffee-growing area on Earth to get the coffee berry borer.
Almost too small to see, the bug burrows into a coffee cherry, which has the bean at the center, and lays eggs. The larvae then chew on the bean, reducing size and quality. South American coffee growers have tried for decades to eradicate the borer and have found they can't, but they can keep infestations down to about a fifth of the crop.
The borer can live between seasons in the rubbish from coffee trees lying on the ground. In fact, one of the key strategies for preventing its spread is to keep the ground in a coffee grove clean.