The coffee berry borer (CBB) is a tiny beetle (smaller than a pinhead) that bores into coffee berries as they ripen on the tree. Inside the fruit the female beetle lays eggs that hatch into larvae, which then feed on the coffee beans inside the coffee berries.
CBB has been a damaging pest in almost all coffee growing regions of the world for many years, but Hawaii coffee orchards were free of this beetle until 2010 when CBB was found in South Kona. That year some of the South Kona coffee growers lost 80% or more of their crop.
Unfortunately for those of us who grow coffee in Holualoa and other areas of North Kona, CBB has arrived in the north this growing season. And while there is no prospect of eliminating this pest, there are two approaches which can help to contain the impacts of the CBB:
- gleaning the orchards of all coffee cherry left on trees at the end of the harvest season, and
- applying on organically approved version of the fungus b. bassiana.
At Rancho Aloha we are busy following both these mitigation strategies, and we and the rest of Kona Coffee growers are hopeful that CBB populations will be reduced and damage will be limited to 2-5% of the crop. The Kona Coffee Farmers Association has put together this video detailing efforts to control CBB.
For appreciators of Kona coffee, CBB brings bad news and good news. The bad news is that prices are likely to rise as a result of reduced coffee production. The good news is that processing techniques remove the CBB-damaged beans and the world-renowned flavor of 100% Kona coffee will continue to delight consumer palates.