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Webinars scheduled for Hawai`i coffee growers on possible fungicide use

fungus coffee
Coffee leaf infected by the coffee leaf rust (orange spores) and the hyperparasite (white spores). Credit: Beyene Zewdie / Stockholm University

HONOLULU, US – Two free webinars have been scheduled in April to help inform Hawai`i coffee growers on the potential use of a fungicide to combat the coffee leaf rust (CLR). Last month, the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) filed a request for emergency exemption with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow the use of a fungicide, Priaxor® Xemium, on coffee plants in Hawai`i. The fungicide is approved for use on other agricultural crops, but EPA approval is needed to allow its use specifically on coffee plants.

In anticipation that EPA may approve the request by the end of April, the University of Hawai`i – College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (UH-CTAHR) and HDOA will be hosting two Zoom webinars to help educate coffee growers on the safe use of the fungicide.

The webinars have been scheduled for:

  • Thursday, April 1st and Thursday, April 8th from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Registration is required and may be completed at: www.HawaiiCoffeeEd.com/priaxor
  • Webinars are free.
  • For more information on the Zoom webinars, contact UH-CTAHR Associate Extension Agent Andrea Kawabata at andreak@hawaii.edu or call (808) 322-0164

Hawai`i researchers believe that if approved by EPA and used properly, Priaxor has the ability to inhibit the CLR spore germination and growth on the coffee plant leaves, unlike currently approved contact fungicides that kill CLR spores on the outside of the leaf.

CLR has been detected on Maui, Hawai`i Island, Lana`i and O`ahu and is a serious threat to the state’s $56 million coffee industry.

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.

For more information on CLR and the Hawai`i coffee industry, go to:

Coffee Education Website – UH-CTAHR: https://www.HawaiiCoffeeEd.com/
HDOA Coffee Leaf Rust Advisory: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2021/01/NPA-20-03-Coffee-leaf-rust1-21.pdf
CLR Field Guide: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/pi/files/2020/12/CLR-Public-field-guide-with-form11-20.pdf
2020-2021 Hawai`i Coffee Season Statistics (National Agricultural Statistics Service): https://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Hawaii/Publications/Fruits_and_Nuts/Coffee-01-26-2021.pdf