Quarantine to stop spread of coffee leaf rust expands to Oahu, Lanai

  • Courtesy photo Coffee leaf rust causes defoliation of coffee plants and can reduce photosynthetic capacity, resulting in a significant reduction in vegetative and berry growth.

The state Board of Agriculture on Tuesday approved the expansion of quarantine areas to include the Oahu and Lanai because of coffee leaf rust, a fungus that threatens Hawaii’s coffee industry.

Coffee leaf rust was first detected in the state in October on Maui and the Big Island. The following month, the islands were designated by the board as CLR-infested areas under Plant Quarantine Interim Rule 20-1, which restricted the movement of coffee plants, plant parts and other CLR hosts from those islands.

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CLR was subsequently detected on Oahu and Lanai in January. Tuesday’s action was taken in an effort to help prevent the spread of CLR to Kauai and Molokai. The quarantine for Oahu and Lanai went into effect Wednesday.

The interim rule does not affect the movement of roasted coffee or export shipments of coffee plants and plant parts, green coffee beans, used coffee bags or other CLR carriers, provided they are exported directly from a CLR-infested area and not transshipped through a CLR uninfested area in the state. Interisland movement of regulated CLR host material may be conducted under permit.

Anyone who violates the interim rule is subject to a misdemeanor offense and might be fined up to $10,000. A second offense committed within five years of a prior conviction could result in a fine of up to $25,000.

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In a related action, the board approved a request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Station to shorten the one-year quarantine on CLR-resistant coffee plants that have already been in quarantine at their facility since September.

Suspected infestations should be reported to the Plant Pest Control Branch at 808-973-9525.

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