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The coffee crop is very important to the global economy. More than 10 million tons are produced yearly worldwide, making it responsible for running the economy wheel in many sectors, such as agricultural companies, cooperatives, exportation and/or trader companies, coffee roasters and of course, farmers.

Besides the consumption of 4.5 kilograms of ground roast coffee per person yearly, this grain is also used for many other purposes. Due to its chemical properties, it is used by the pharmaceutical industry as medicine for disorders in the central nervous and cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. It helps stimulate the brain, reduce lethargy and depression, stimulate memory and focus, and prevents alcohol and drug consumption. In addition, it can also be used by the cosmetic industry and energy drink manufacturers.

Now we know the worldwide importance of this crop, how do we guarantee a safe and profitable harvest to put the product in the market? There are two main factors that can reduce coffee yields or sometimes even compromise the whole production: plant nutrition and pests.

Regarding plant nutrition, SMART Fertilizer Software can help create a tailored fertilization plan for your coffee crop, considering your yield goal, fertilizer availability, climate, and soil conditions. Make sure that fertilization is not what is holding your yields back by checking out our software here!

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After ensuring that all the essential nutrients are being provided to the coffee plants during each growing stage, your focus should then turn towards the pests that damage coffee plants. In this article, we will introduce the key ones.

  • Coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

The female beetle of the coffee berry borer punctures the fruit and forms a tunnel all the way into the seed, where it will lay its eggs. Once hatched, the larvae start feeding on the seeds and when they become adults, abandon the fruit to infest others. This attack decreases grain weight and leads to the premature fall of the fruit. The injury caused by the borer enables the entrance of microorganisms that can create unwanted fermentation; this affects the beverage quality, and therefore reduces the coffee’s value on the market.

To control this pest, it is important to have as clean a harvest as possible; avoid leaving remaining fruit on the trees or on the ground that can serve as a host for the next season. For the application of pesticides, it is important not to have too much plant densification and also use turbo atomizer sprayers that will shake the branches and reach fruit that are more on the inside of the plants.

Puncture on coffee by Hypothenemus hampei. Photo: Esalq Jr. Consultoria

  • Coffee leaf miner (Leucoptera coffeella)

This moth causes profound damage by laying its eggs on the surface of the coffee plant’s leaves. Once they hatch, the larvae penetrate the leaf. This leads to yield loss due to a decrease of production since there is a reduction of foliar area for photosynthesis and an increased defoliation.

The signs of damage, dark and irregular lesions on the leaves with an epidermis that is effortlessly removed, can easily be observed on the field. Predatory and parasitoid wasps are the main method of control in this case.

Foliar injury caused by Leucoptera coffeella. Photo: Opção Agro



  • Mites

There are two main species of mites affecting coffee plants: the red mite (Oligonychus ilicis) and the false spider mite (Brevipalpus phoenicis). The first, scratches the leaves’ epidermis until the cells are perforated, allowing them to feed on the cellular content by sucking it, affecting photosynthesis and productivity.

The false spider mite not only causes damage by perforating leaves, but it is also a vector for the coffee ringspot virus (CoRSV) that causes extreme defoliation and fruit abortion.

The best course of action for controlling these pests is through prevention. It is recommended that you apply preventive acaricides in two high volume applications (one after harvest and the other during fructification).

Coffee ringspot virus on leaf and fruit. Photo by: Manual do café, Emater-MG

Coffee is in the SMART Fertilizer database and can be selected for the creation of tailored fertilizer plans. Try our software to see our coffee recommendations.

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  • Comprehensive data on hundreds of crop varieties
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