Coffee leaf rust detected in Hawaii for the first time

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Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 at 12:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In an alarming discovery, agriculture officials have confirmed the presence of coffee leaf rust from samples collected on Maui and detected “suspect” samples in Hilo.

Coffee leaf rust is devastating to coffee plants and has been found around the world in major coffee growing areas. The pest had previously not been found in Hawaii, however, prior to last week.

“The Hawaii Department of Agriculture and other partner agencies continue to survey the state to determine the extent of the coffee leaf rust infestation,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We are also trying to determine the pathway of how this fungus was introduced into the state.”

According to the president of the Hawaii Coffee Association, the fungus has the potential to wipe out the Hawaii coffee industry if the right steps are not taken.

“Coffee leaf rust is the most devastating pest known to coffee,” said Chris Manfredi.

Manfredi said they are working on containing the spread, and a long-term solution may require switching to rust-resistant crops.

To report possible coffee leaf rust infestations, call the Pest Control Branch at 973-9525.

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