How to identify and prevent major diseases in coffee?

Major diseases in coffee: Symptoms and management
Major diseases in coffee: Symptoms and management

This blog provides in-depth details on how diseases affect coffee production as well as how to recognise and manage them.

One of the principal plantation crops in India is coffee, which is primarily grown in the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, as well as, to a lesser extent, in the northeastern states. The major diseases impede coffee production.

Coffee plants are susceptible to various viral diseases, which can cause considerable financial damage to coffee growers. If such diseases are not detected at the right time, they will damage coffee plants. It can destroy not only one plant but a whole plot of coffee plants as well. As a result, management measures must be implemented to lessen their impact.

Major diseases in coffee are

DiseaseSymptoms Favourable conditionsPrevention 
RustYellow spots appear on the underside of the leaves.

Later, the entire underside of the leaf has yellow, rusty stains.
High humidity, rain or dewGathering and destroying unhealthy leaves.

Use 0.5% Bordeaux mixture spray.
AnthracnoseRound to grey dots appears on leaves.

On berries, small, sunken areas with a dark colour are observed.
Warm temperatures, rain, and high humidityEliminate and bury diseased leaves, twigs, and branches after pruning.

Follow proper sanitation methods in fields.
Black Rot or KolerogaDark brown or black leaves, twigs, and berries derived from black rot.

Defoliation and berry loss occur.
Warm temperatures, rain, and high humidityRemoval of infected areas.

Applying a Bordeaux mixture spray of 1%.

Rust

Coffee rust is widely regarded as the most dangerous disease impacting coffee worldwide. The disease’s long-term effects frequently cause a significant decline in yield. It is financially devastating for coffee growers.

Symptoms of Rust

  • It usually impacts leaves or, occasionally, vulnerable shoots.
  • Yellow spots of a 2- to 3-mm diameter first appear on the underside of leaves.
  • The growing leaf spots may combine and form larger patches.
  • Hundreds of tiny rust spots are formed on leaves. The leaf’s upper surface also darkens from yellow to brown.
  • Later, the entire underside of the leaf has yellow, rusty stains. Black dots follow necrosis after the orange-yellow spots.
  • As a result of the infection, infected leaves fall off, and the branch is left bare. The plant’s production reduces. These types of diseased crops provide lower yields and lower profits.
Rust in coffee
Rust in coffee

Favourable conditions of Rust

High humidity, rain or dew. While heavy dew is sufficient to trigger disease germination, the entire infection process takes around 24 to 48 hours of uninterrupted, free moisture. Therefore, the disease can only occur during the rainy season.

Management of Rust

  • Gathering and destroying unhealthy leaves. Cultivate resistant S 238 and S 395 varieties.
  • Farmers can prevent this disease by using a 0.5% Bordeaux mixture spray before flowering, during the rainy season, and after the rainy season in August to October, respectively.
  • Follow broader spacing and proper pruning techniques.
  • Maintain proper sanitation in your fields.

Anthracnose

Anthracnose on the coffee tree can result in the loss of immature fruit, a decrease in yield, and dead branches, which can damage the tree. If a disease is widespread and not treated on time, it can cause a massive loss to the grower.

Symptoms of Anthracnose

  • The symptoms can appear on seedlings, flowers, fruit, leaves, nodal regions, and branches.
  • Near the tip, there is yellowing and necrosis of the nodes and internodes
  • Round to grey dots 2-3 m in diameter on the leaves.
  • On berries, small, sunken areas with a dark colour are observed. The colour of the beans turns brown. Additionally, dieback occurs.
  • On diseased branches, flower buds don’t open.
Anthracnose in coffee
Anthracnose in coffee

Favourable conditions of Anthracnose

Warm temperatures, rain, and high humidity are favourable to the disease.

Management of Anthracnose

  • Eliminate and bury diseased leaves, twigs, and branches after pruning.
  • Follow proper sanitation methods in fields.
  • Make sure to put your plants far enough apart to promote airflow and sunlight, which will help the leaf surfaces dry off more quickly once the trees attain maturity.
  • Mulch leaf litter around the plants to keep the soil moist during dry weather.
  • Maintaining plant vigour by applying balanced nutrition.
  • Farmers can use systemic fungicides and copper-based sprays to control the disease.

Black rot or Koleroga

In India, Koleroga is regarded as the second-most significant coffee disease. Both Arabica and Robusta coffee have been affected by pathogen attacks, but Arabica coffee cultivars have been more severely affected. Nearly all the coffee-growing regions in Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu affected by the intense South-West monsoon have reported black rot disease.

Symptoms of Koleroga

  • Dark brown or black rotting leaves, twigs, and growing berries derived from black rot are the most significant symptom.
  • The leaves are supported by fungal growth, which is visible on the branches and petioles.
  • Drying diseased leaves and berries reveal the presence of a white web made of tightly bound fungus.
  • Defoliation and berry loss are caused by infection.
Koleroga in coffee
Koleroga in coffee

Favourable conditions of Koleroga

Warm temperatures, rain, and high humidity are favourable to the disease.

Management of Koleroga

  • Removal of infected areas.
  • Maintaining adequate airflow, sunshine, and drainage.
  • Applying a Bordeaux mixture spray of 1% (Just before the start of the monsoon and during the rain break, spray on both surfaces of developing berries and leaves).
  • Maintain proper sanitation in your fields.
  • Numerous systemic and preventative fungicides are proven to be beneficial.

Conclusion

The deficit in coffee production must be compensated by developing disease management strategies that limit damage while raising coffee demand. However, the main projected obstacles for growers are low yields due to rising disease pressure and a lack of a market to give premium pricing locally. Farmers can lessen disease damage and save their crops by adhering to controlled management practices.

Controlled actions must be implemented at the correct time to safeguard coffee plants. However, in recent times the adoption of modern technology can assist farmers in detecting the disease at the right time in the modern era.

How can Fasal assist?

  • Plant protection is essential in horticulture to maximise coffee yield and output. Several artificial intelligence (AI) strategies have recently been developed to control crop pests and diseases precisely. 
  • With its AI-powered automated equipment, Fasal is progressing in the horticulture sector. To guarantee effective pest management, community-wide plant protection measures should be used.
  • The Fasal IoT-based system is easy to install on any horticulture farm and is powered by solar and batteries.
  • For a disease to develop in coffee plants, multiple factors must come into play. 
  • Our Fasal device is equipped with several sensors that keep an eye on macro and microclimates as well as rainfall, soil moisture, soil temperature, wind direction, leaf wetness, and more at the farm level to identify the circumstances that cause disease outbreaks in farms.
  • The Fasal Disease and Pest Prevention System also offers details on the best preventative sprays to minimise damage and warns coffee growers about the potential disease and pest infestations. Farmers have reduced pesticide use by 15–30%, reducing its adverse environmental effects.
  • Using the Fasal app on mobile smartphones, coffee producers can access a complete image of their plants and take corrective and preventative measures to keep diseases at bay.
  • And not just this! The Fasal system also enables farmers to sell their products directly from the farm gate at better market prices. 

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