A Recent Study Shows That Coffee Rust Isn’t Caused By Climate Change After All

Recently, a group of scientists conducting researches and studies about coffee rust found out something that can possibly help all coffee producers all over the world. The researchers from the University of Exeter discovered that climate change is not the main cause of the devastating coffee rust disease.

Throughout these years, we all thought that this epidemic coffee disease is caused by the changes in our weather. Apparently, this new study shows signs that weather isn’t the main cause of coffee rust.

Published in the Philosophical Transactions B, the paper states: “We find no evidence for an overall trend in disease risk in coffee-growing regions of Colombia from 1990 to 2015, therefore, while weather conditions were more conducive to disease outbreaks from 2008 to 2011, we reject the climate change hypothesis.” Read More here. 

Upon examining the coffee rust disease in Colombia from 2008 to 2011, researchers concluded that the coffee rust disease can be caused by multiple factors like the rise and fall of the fertilizer price, and the frequent weather changes.

This recent discovery is both good news and bad news to all coffee producers all over the world.

It’s good news because since the epidemic is not solely caused by weather changes, we can still find more ways to get rid of this problem.

On the other hand, this discovery is also bad news because it means that we need to start all over again and it requires more in-depth research to know how we can fully get rid of this epidemic.

How Coffee Rust Affects The Coffee Industry Worldwide

The coffee rust epidemic has reached a lot of countries all over the world and has been a major problem and threat to coffee plantations all over the world. The rust organism mainly attacks the leaves (though in some rare instances the rust was found on fruits and young stems.). The coffee rust is usually manifested by chlorotic young lessions or pale yellow spots before the sporulation is evident. The sports vary in shapes and sizes.

This epidemic was first recorded in 1861. A British explorer discovered the development of coffee leaf rust in the Lake Victoria region in Kenya. In 1869, the cultivated coffee industry in Sri Lanka was attacked by this virus and their coffee industry suffered for 10 long years.

In 1920, the spread of the coffee leaf rust has reached most African and Asian countries during the sprout of their commercial grown coffee.

The epidemic in Brazil started in 1972. Soon, it affected the countries in Southern and Central America.

The Effects of Coffee Rust to Coffee Plantations

  • The amount of rust in the current year highly affects the reduced size of vegetative growth and berry growth.
  • Coffee rust is associated with defoliation. The strong sink of the berries’ carbohydrate can cause shoots and roots to starve and die. With that being said, the number of nodes on which coffee will be produced next year will be reduced.
  • The production of coffee for the following year is produced this season. Thus, the top and shoot dieback caused by the coffee rust will seriously reduce the following season’s crop.
  • A research conducted by Kushalappa and Eskes in 1989 estimates the total losses caused by leaf rust is between 30 to 80%.
  • The total average losses per year is believed to be about 15%.