Coffee growers in parts of Brazil are grappling with the worst beetle infestation in recent memory as a ban on a pesticide used for 40 years has helped the destructive insect flourish, threatening bean quality and yields, writes Marcy Nicholson and Ana Mano on Reuters.com.
The damage from the beetle — until 2013 controlled by the pesticide endosulfan — is compounding a smaller biennial production year for Brazil’s producers, who are already struggling with the impact of poor weather in some areas as well as plant fatigue after a big harvest. The government expected the annual crop to be down 11 percent on the year even before the beetle problem emerged.
The incidence of the beetle, known as “broca,” has surged in an area that grows roughly 40 percent of Brazil’s crop, with estimated damage to green coffee ranging from 5 percent to 30 percent after females burrowed into beans to lay their eggs.
That will affect the quality of arabica beans sold from the region to companies such as Starbucks Corp and Nestlé SA, said Thomas Hojo, owner of Grupo Hojo, whose family farms 1,300 hectares (3,200 acres) of coffee and owns one roasting plant.