(BIVN) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a request from the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture to allow the use of Priaxor® Xemium – a fungicide that is not currently labeled by the EPA for specific use on coffee plants – to help coffee growers manage and control the devastating coffee leaf rust (CLR) plant pathogen.
Priaxor® Xemium was already allowed for use to control fungi on leafy vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes, soybeans, wheat and many other crops. State ag officials filed a request for specific exemption with the EPA in March 2021, asking to use the fungicide on coffee plants in Hawaiʻi.
Under the EPA approval, the fungicide can be used for up to one year or until use on coffee plants is added to the product label by EPA and the product’s producer.
“Hawai`i coffee growers now have an added method to combat the coffee leaf rust which is extremely difficult to manage,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “Other efforts to minimize the damage and spread of coffee leaf rust include quarantines on the movement of coffee plants and associated material, the import of disease-resistant coffee plants and the development of integrated pest management strategies.”
According to the State:
CLR is a devastating coffee pathogen and was first discovered in Sri Lanka in 1869 and can cause severe defoliation of coffee plants resulting in greatly reduced photosynthetic capacity. Depending on CLR prevalence in a given year, both vegetative and berry growth are greatly reduced. There are multiple long-term impacts of CLR, including dieback, resulting in an impact to the following year’s crop, with estimated losses ranging from 30 percent to 80 percent.
Since the first detection of CLR in Hawai`i in October 2020, a multi-agency effort involving HDOA, UH-CTAHR, the USDA Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and the Hawai`i coffee industry has been working to protect Hawai`i’s $56-million coffee industry.
The EPA exemption allows coffee growers to use the fungicide under the following conditions:
- Growers must inform the Pesticides Branch at least seven days prior to using the product by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Personal protective equipment must be worn as required by the label.
- All directions on both the container label, as well as the dealer provided Section 18 label, must be followed.
- All use/application must be reported to HDOA’s Pesticides Branch within 10 days of application.
Growers with questions on the proper use of the fungicide may contact Pesticides Branch staff at:
- Hawaiʻi Island: Cal Westergard – (808) 974-4143
- Maui County: Mitchell MacCluer – (808) 873-3078
- Oʻahu: Adam Yamamoto – (808) 973-9409
- Kauaʻi: Emilee Wedekind-Balualua – (808) 241-7140