A Tennessee company reports that it has achieved success in eliminating coffee rust, known as roya de cafe (Hemileia vastatrix).
The firm, GroGenesis, Inc., said it conducted a field trial in Guatemala.
The rust resists many fungicides.
The primary field test was undertaken at a large farm located in the department of Santa Rosa, just southeast of Guatemala City and which forms an integral component of a major commercial coffee growing operation, the company said in a release. A single application of the GroGenesis product was manually sprayed across a predefined area, and the field team
documented visible degradation of the fungal infestation within 24 hours.
Initial skepticism was encountered due to previously unacceptable long-term results from a variety of typical commercial fungicides containing toxic salts (e.g. copper and arsenic) which eventually poison the soil itself, said the company. The fact that the GroGenesis product was shown to be highly effective, non-toxic and suitable for both organic and non-organic growers, increased the level of enthusiasm for the product dramatically, it added.
The current outbreak of coffee rust is the worst seen in Central America and Mexico since the fungal disease arrived in the region more than 40 years ago. Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica have declared national emergencies over the disease.
The rust mainly infects coffee leaves, but also young fruit and buds. Coffee rust spores are spread by the wind and the rain from lesions on the underside of leaves. Production is cut drastically.