LIHU‘E — Yesterday, the state’s Department of Agriculture confirmed coffee berry borer, a devastating pest of coffee plants, has been detected on Kaua‘i, the first detection on the island.
The pest was confirmed in a residential area in Kalaheo on September 3.
The Kalaheo resident submitted suspected infested coffee berries to the Kaua‘i Invasive Species Committee which sent the samples to the DOA and the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. The state’s Plant Pest Control Branch in Honolulu where an entomologist confirmed the pest the next day.
Kaua‘i Coffee was informed of the detection and have not detected any signs itself.
Coffee berry borer, known as CBB, was first detected in the state in September 2010 in Kona and discovered in Ka‘u in May 2011. It was found on O‘ahu in December 2014 and on Maui in December 2016. It is still unknown how CBB first made its way to Hawai‘i Island and how it has spread to other islands.
“While the extent of the infestation on Kaua‘i is not known at this time, there is a strong coordinated effort between agencies and the coffee industry to try to contain and manage this pest,” Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture, said in a press release Thursday. “We also ask the Kaua‘i community to be vigilant and report any signs of CBB in their backyard coffee plants.”
The small beetle bores into the coffee “cherry” to lay its eggs, and the larvae feed on the coffee bean, reducing the yield and quality of the bean.
Since its detection in the state, coffee growers have developed methods to manage the pest, which includes using an organic pesticide and field sanitation. Some farms with good management practices have been able to keep infestation levels down significantly.
CBB, Hypothenemus hampei, is native to Central Africa and found in many coffee-growing regions of the world, including Central and South America. Hawai‘i has strict importation rules requiring all imported green coffee beans for roasting and associated packing materials be fumigated prior to entering the State to ensure beans are free of pathogens and insect pests. These rules also subject coffee plants and propagative plant parts to strict quarantine requirements if imported to Hawai‘i.
In addition, by rule, HDOA requires a permit issued by Plant Quarantine prior to transporting unroasted coffee beans, coffee plants and plant parts, used coffee bags and coffee harvesting equipment moving from an infested island to other islands within the state. The rule also requires inspection by HDOA Plant Quarantine inspectors, mitigation measures, and certain treatments prior to shipping. Inspectors will either attach a tag, label or stamp to indicate the shipment complies with all necessary requirements. For unroasted coffee beans, acceptable treatment protocols include fumigation, freezing and heat treatment.
Report possible CBB infestations on Kaua‘i by calling HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch at 973-9525.