Major Pests of Coffee: its Symptoms and Management

Major pests of Coffee: symptoms and management
Major Pests in Coffee: symptoms and management

This blog offers detailed information on the impact of pest attacks on coffee production and methods for identifying and controlling pests at the right time.

India is among the top 10 nations in coffee production. Coffee is produced primarily in India’s southern region. Karnataka is the leading coffee producer, followed by Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The coffee plant is prone to various pests, much like any other crop. A poorly managed infestation or outbreak can cause a grower significant production loss. The grower needs to identify the pest at the correct time and take precautions.

Major pests of coffee

Pests Symptoms Prevention 
Coffee berry borerPresence of a pinhole at the berry tip.

Presence of powdery substance near holes.
Practice early harvest of the coffee beans.

Ensure adequate drainage and shade.
White stem borerThe wilting and yellowing of leaves.

Ridges around the stem of infested plants.
Keep the estates in the optimal shade.

Use pheromone traps.

Colar prune the infected plant and burn them.
Shot hole borerThe presence of a shot hole.

Dropping off leaves.

The main stems of young plants are affected.
Burn the affected twigs after pruning them.

Remove infected suckers.

Maintain light shade and proper drainage.

Coffee berry borer

The pest coffee berry borer is widespread throughout the world. In India, it is more prevalent in South India. It is one of the most dangerous pests to commercial coffee farms and, if no management measures are taken, can damage 50–100% of the berries on a field.

Symptoms of Coffee berry borer

  • Pinhole at the berry’s tip.
  • A severe infestation may be observed if there are two or more holes.
  • The female beetle tunnels into the berries through the hole to feed inside the content. 
  • Through the openings, a powdery substance is pushed out.
Coffee berry borer
Coffee berry borer

Control of Coffee berry borer

  • Coffee berry borer management requires the appropriate implementation of IPM strategies.
  • The primary means of spread is transporting contaminated coffee to unaffected areas.
  • To prevent cross-infestation, gunny bags shall be fumigated with aluminium phosphide (ALP) under the supervision of a pest control service or technical expert before being delivered to estates. 
  • Practice early harvest of coffee beans
  • Gleaning is the process of spreading gunny sacks or polythene sheets over the ground after gathering berries. Farmers should try to avoid this practice.
  • Ensure adequate drainage and shade.
  • Putting infected berries in hot water for two to three minutes kills all the stages inside.
  • During storage, coffee beans are dried to a specified moisture content level, especially in different coffee cultivars such as Arabica (10%) and Robusta (11% moisture content).
  • Install 10 Broca traps per acre at a 20-meter distance to gather the beetles after the coffee harvest. During drying, traps may be put all around the drying yard.
  • Use a Knapsack sprayer to apply spore suspension to the infected coffee bushes in the evening.

White stem borer

Coffee white stem borer is a major pest of arabica coffee that causes severe yield losses in all coffee-growing districts of India.

Symptoms of White stem borer

  • Larvae crawl into hardwood and create tunnels that can reach the roots.
  • Tunnels are filled with grub excreta.
  • Infected plants have ridges around the stem that are easily visible.
  • The wilting and yellowing of leaves.
  • When the borer attacks young plants (7 to 8 years old), they could die within a year.
White stem borer in coffee
White stem borer in coffee

Control of White stem borer

  • Keep the estates in the optimal shade. (Tree system with two tiers for shade).
  • Find the infected plants by searching for ridges on the main stem and thick primaries before the flight periods, which are before the end of March and September each year. Infested plants should be collar pruned, uprooted if the borer has reached the roots, and burn them immediately.
  • Using a coir glove or coconut husk, remove the loose, scaly branch of the primary stem and thick primaries to eliminate the cracks and crevices where the female beetle lays her eggs on the stem.
  • Since the major goal of this operation is to stop stem borer females from laying eggs, scrubbing should be done right before the flight, preferably between March and September. However, caution must be used to prevent harming the wood beneath the bark.
  • Pheromone traps can be set up in the field between 1.8 and 2 metres above the ground. A grid of 25 traps per hectare should be used, with a 20-meter distance between each trap.

Shot hole borer

This pest was previously regarded as a minor pest in coffee. However, in recent years, robusta-growing regions in South India have seen increasing incidences of the shot hole borer.

Symptoms of Shot hole borer

  • Infestation on branches of green succulents.
  • The main stems of young plants may be affected.
  • The presence of a shot hole on branches.
  • Drooping leaves are the first indication.
  • Branches that have dried up or withered (younger plants withered more quickly than older ones)
  • Attacked leaves fall, often too soon.
  • Wilting, drooping, and drying of terminal leaves
  • Significant loss of productive branches due to severe infection.
Shot hole borer in coffee
Shot hole borer in coffee

Control of Shot hole borer

  • Burn the affected twigs after pruning them 2.5 to 7 cm below the shothole.
  • During the summer, remove and dispose of any undesirable or infected suckers.
  • Maintain thin shade and proper drainage around the estate.
  • During the summer, get rid of all the undesirable or infected suckers. 
  • Maintain proper sanitation procedures in the field.

Conclusion 

Using integrated pest management approaches is a practical way to safeguard coffee plants. Farmers can stop pests from invading their farms by employing the proper preventative techniques. Many contemporary methods are now being developed as ways to defend crops from insect invasion. Today, technology can help farmers protect their fields against persistent pest infestations.

How can Fasal assist?

  • Pests can have a negative effect on coffee production, quality, and growth.
  • Pests, including the coffee berry borer, white stem borer, and shot hole borer, can no longer threaten coffee production using Fasal’s technology.
  • Fasal is a crop intelligence platform powered by IoT. It collects information on current environmental conditions from farm sensors to provide farmers with actionable advice tailored to their farms, crops, and crop stages.
  • With the help of Fasal technology, pests, including the coffee berry borer, white stem borer, and shot hole borer, can be accurately controlled. The farmer will benefit by saving up to 50% on spray expenses.
  • The Fasal system also assists in enhancing the quality of the output, preventing pest attacks, and controlling irrigation according to the crop and its stage.
  • By using localised weather forecasts and crop condition monitoring tools, the Fasal system helps farmers manage their farms and labour more efficiently.
  • The Fasal system also helps farmers to sell their produce directly from their farm gate.

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