Kona Coffee Council

Coffee cherry in Kona under attack

From: HC Bittenbender

Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2010 5:35 PM

Subject: Coffee cherry in Kona under attack


Aloha Coffee Leaders and Coffee Colleagues,

This is a update on a serious situation in Kona.

We have had 3 reports from Kainaliu to south of Honaunau that coffee cherry is being infested with beetles. Two samples reviewed to date indicate that it is a species of Hypothenemus. Hawaii has several species of Hypothenemus including the Tropical Nut Borer (TNB) . The Hawaii Department of Agriculture received samples from Ms. Elsie Burbano, PhD student PEPS, who made the preliminary ID. DOA following state and federal guidelines is sending the samples to the USDA Systematics Entomology Lab near Washington for official ID.

Cherry damaged by borer beetle

Note entry holes at blossom end and on side.- The beetle (greatly enlarged). 

We suspect that it is either the TNB that has expanded its host range to coffee perhaps due to a change in its environment or worse that it is the Coffee Berry Borer. 

DOA will inform us of the results.  

What can farmers do?  

Several products containing imidacloprid have been registered for coffee - Provado is the foliar formulation. This might reduce the population in the coffee cherries but won't help coffee already infested. Once pulped the infested coffee produces floaters which will contain living adults, eggs and larvae. This material should be destroyed so as not to increase the population on the farm. Running it through a chipper /shredder might kill the insect but then it should be composted, frozen, steamed or roasted.  If trees are heavily infested the grower maybe decide not to harvest. In that case consider stumping the trees and chipping and composting the trees cherries to destroy the insect. Leaving the cherry on the tree or letting cherry drop to the ground will only increase the number of beetles.  Do not ship cherry coffee out of Kona.

Once the species is determined then a longer term approach will be developed in collaboration with coffee industry, CTAHR,  HDOA and USDA.

If this problem is caused by a new invasive species in Hawaii, how did it get here?  

The USDA has done extensive research on quarantine issues for coffee imports. All imported green coffee entering Hawaii is  fumigated  but more importantly we've learned that dried green coffee beans is not attacked by the coffee berry borer probably because its too dry. The Coffee Berry Borer is not a stored product pest, it attacks immature cherry on the trees. Its more likely that someone who came from an area with the coffee berry borer - a tourist, a returning coffee farmer, or a migratory coffee picker- had an infested cherry or parchment bean lodged in their clothing or luggage.

Is there any promising research on controlling  coffee berry borer?

Yes, at least one fungus is being used to control the borer and a thrip Karnyothrips flavipes was identified that feeds on the berry borer eggs and larvae. (J Jaramillo et al., 'Molecular diagnosis of a previously unreported predator-prey association in coffee: Karnyothrips flavipes Jones (Thysanoptera: Phlaeothripidae) predation on the coffee berry borer'), Naturwissenshaften; doi 10.1007/s00114-009-0641-7

Source URL: http://www.science20.com/news_articles/newly_discovered_predator_keeps_coffee_berry_borer_check



H.C. "Skip" Bittenbender, Ph.D.

Extension Specialist for Coffee, Kava and Cacao


Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences

CTAHR- College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources 

University of Hawaii at Manoa

3190 Maile Way

Honolulu, HI 96822

tel. 808-956-6043

fax. 808-956-3894

office/lab  location is 112 St. John Hall


CTAHR’s Farmer's Bookshelf  www.CTAHR.Hawaii.edu/fb/

Cacao industry http://www.thechocolatelife.com/group/hawaiicacao

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