Disciplined approach urged to control Coffee Berry Borer

Colombian coffee growers are increasingly recognizing the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of coffee berry borer as the most effective strategy to prevent the spread of the insect. The strength of the approach was evident during the latest Technical Subcommittee, where nineteen representatives from Colombia's different coffee producing departments met to discuss potential measures to minimize the impact of berry borer infestation on coffee quality and producer income. The developments of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation's (FNC) National Coffee Research Center (Cenicafé) regarding coffee berry borer provided important contributions to the two-day meeting. Of similar importance was the insistence on the importance of adopting control measures such as the commonly known repase “re-re” (colleting the dry, ripe and overripe beans from the trees and from the ground) and the use of natural enemies of the insect.   “This task is the responsibility of coffee growers. It's a problem that concerns all of us. We must devote our daily efforts to control the insect, which is manageable if we carry out the repase, use fungi and renovate our plantations,” said Jaime E. Vargas, coffee grower from the department of Antioquia who participated in the Subcommittee.   Hernando Duque, Technical Manager of the FNC, explained that several factors place coffee berry borer in the 'difficult control pest' category. “Its important to understand that, technically, coffee berry borer is hidden inside the coffee bean,” Mr. Duque said.     The inherent complexities derived from berry borer's ability to hide within the bean only add to the fact that the plague is now at an evolved state and has elaborate protection mechanisms. Given the nature of the problem, the suggested strategy of Cenicafé and the FNC is the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) of coffee berry borer. The IPM is a set of practices that contribute to the pest's integral management and control. Acknowledging the difficulty of attacking the insect by implementing isolated practices, IPM advocates for a comprehensive strategy that includes different combinations of cultural control, chemical control, biological control, post-harvest control, infestation level evaluation and flowering record keeping. Coffee berry borer infestations rose above normal levels during the early months of 2016, having a particular negative impact on the main harvest of the departments of Caldas, Risaralda, Quindío and Tolima. This increase, which in some cases exceeded a 10 per cent infestation (note that producer income starts to suffer when infestation exceeds 2%), was the result of El Niño phenomenon. Rising temperatures favour the reproduction of coffee berry borer and, when rains arrive, the insect flies and affects new fruits. According to Cenicafé's field observations, if no integral control measures are adopted, up to 4.5 million berry borers can fly per hectare during a hot dry period as El Niño. This figure drops to between 2.5 and 3.5 million berry borers per hectare during a neutral period and to 1.7 million per hectare during La Niña phenomenon.

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