October 8, 2010 – Naalehu, Hawaii
By Stephanie Salazar
Grim news for coffee growers in the prize winning Ka’u coffee district.
The dreaded coffee berry borer that can devastate island coffee orchards has been tracked all the way to the Naalehu, at the southern end of Hawaii Island.
The beetle had been confirmed in the South Kona District between Kaloko and Manuka State Park. The state has surveyed 74 coffee farms state wide – 54 of them on Hawaii Island. With 21 on the Big Island testing ‘positive’ for the coffee berry borer. There have been no positive farms found on the other islands.
The latest Department of Agriculture survey map even shows the infestation extending south past Milolii, nealry reaching Ocean View Estates. A seperate area has been identified in Naalehu.
The coffee berry borer is a small beetle and is native to Central Africa and is also found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. The beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs. The larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the crop. Because the larvae are inside the “cherry”, it makes it difficult to control by pesticides.