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State permits testing of coffee borer pesticide

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 9:39 a.m. HST, Jan 27, 2011

State agriculture officials have given the green light to test a fungus-based pesticide intended to control a beetle that is worrying Big Island coffee farmers.

According to West Hawaii Today, the pesticide is already approved in 49 other states, and will be tested on five, 5-acre farms at different elevations, primarily in South Kona.

The coffee berry borer has infested at least 21 farms in Kona. In the worst cases, the beetle has destroyed 60 to 70 percent of the crops at some farms.

Some farmers suspect the fungus and the insect have kept each other in check for decades. But a recent drought has diminished the fungus, allowing the beetle to proliferate.

Big Island coffee generates about $30 million in sales a year.


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