Devastating coffee rust epidemic hits Central America

An agricultural nightmare is happening across the ocean as an epidemic of leaf rust is tearing its way through Central Americas coffee fields.

Coffee rust, or Hemileia Vastatrix for its Latin name, is a fungus that affects the leaves of the delicate Coffea Arabica plant. Turning the leaves a sickly yellow colour, the fungus all but destroys the coffee produce from a plant.

Although coffee rust has been known about for centuries, and spans the entire glob’s coffee regions, its still relatively unresearched. The spores of the coffee rust fungus are spread between Arabica plants by strong winds and rain, with fatal contamination taking less than 24hrs.

Now treatable by copper based fungicide  it has in the past, changed the entire landscape of countries. Back in the 19th century, coffee producing countries like Ethiopia and Sri Lanka switched large quantities of their farms over from Coffea Arabica plants to the fungus resistant Robusta Coffee.

Thankfully Central America’s crops are unlikely to be completely wiped out, however its disheartening to learn of known diseases or fungi wiping out crops.

Only time will tell if this rust epidemic will redirect American farming away from the Arabica plant.
Maybe we, as consumers, will be picking up the cost of all that copper based fungicide in the near future.

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