Coffee Rust

John Vandermeer.  A mild infection of coffee rust on a tree in Mexico.

John Vandermeer. A mild infection of coffee rust on a tree in Mexico.

Several contributors to this blog live(d) and work(ed) in Central America and know exactly what you mean. Those of us based in south India–where there is high quality arabica growing in the Coorg-Chikmagalur corridor–are hopeful that this “rust” is contained quickly.  So, Dear John, please succeed:

Until this year, John Vandermeer, an ecologist and coffee researcher at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, had never lost a tree to fungus.

The smattering of orange dust that marks the seasonal arrival of the coffee rust fungus, Hemileia vastatrix, has long been commonplace. But this year, one of the worst outbreaks of the rust in memory is under way in Mexico and Central America, and Dr. Vandermeer has witnessed the die-off of 9 percent of the trees in a sample plot at his Mexican research plantation.

What is normally a lush green field now consists of “little sticks sticking out of the ground,” he said.

The outbreak threatens to almost halve the 2013-14 coffee harvests in Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras and Costa Rica; Guatemela’s coffee industry association has already declared a state of emergency. Meanwhile, debate persists about the cause of the spread and how to arrest it.

Read the rest of the story here.

2 thoughts on “Coffee Rust

    • Several contributors to this blog live(d) and work(ed) in Central America and know exactly what you mean. Those of us based in south India–where there is high quality arabica growing in the Coorg-Chikmagalur corridor–are hopeful that this “rust” is contained quickly. Go, John, go!

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