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Hawaii Board of Agriculture expands coffee plant quarantine to slow spread of coffee leaf rust

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The Hawaii Board of Agriculture voted today to expand the coffee quarantine areas in Hawaii in an attempt to keep coffee leaf rust, a fungus that can threaten the state’s coffee industry, from spreading.

The BOA had already restricted the movement of coffee plants and plant parts from Hawaii island and Maui after detecting CLR on those islands in October.

In January, CLR was also detected on Oahu and Lanai. Today’s decision to expand the quarantine area is an attempt by the board to stop the fungus from spreading to Kauai and Molokai, the state Department of Agriculture said in a news release. The expanded quarantine will go into effect Wednesday.

CLR causes the defoliation of coffee plants and can reduce photosynthetic capacity, resulting in a significant reduction in vegetative and berry growth.

The state Department of Agriculture said that there can be long-term effects of CLR, including dieback, which can impact the following year’s crop and result in losses ranging from 30-80%.

The pathogen was first discovered in Sri Lanka in 1869.

The BOA’s ruling does not affect roasted coffee or the transportation of coffee plants, plant parts or other host material out-of-state, so long as they do not stop at an area in Hawaii that is not infested with CLR.

CLR-carrying material can be moved between islands through a permit issued by the DOA’s Plant Quarantine Branch.

It is a misdemeanor to violate the ruling, and offenders can be fined up to $10,000. If a second offense is committed within five years of a prior conviction, offenders can be fined up to $25,000.

The DOA also announced that the board approved a request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basic Agricultural Research Station to shorten the one-year quarantine on CLR-resistant coffee plants that have been in quarantine since September. Those tissue-cultured plants were imported for research into growing CLR-resistant plant varieties in Hawaii.

They were imported prior to the first detection of CLR in Hawaii.

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