Frequent and efficient harvesting as an economically viable strategy to regulate coffee berry borer on commercial farms in Hawaii.J Econ Entomol. 2023 04 24; 116(2):513-519.JE
Coffee is the second most economically important agricultural crop in Hawaii, valued at around $175M for green and roasted coffee in the 2021-2022 season. With the introduction of coffee berry borer (CBB, Hypothenemus hampei Ferrari) to Hawaii in 2010, growers have faced a significant challenge in producing the specialty coffee that the region is known for. This tiny beetle infests the coffee seed and reduces the yield and quality of coffee products. While field sanitation, frequent harvesting and strip-picking are known to be essential for controlling CBB, the associated costs and benefits of these cultural control practices have not been estimated for Hawaii. In the present study, we examined two CBB management strategies across 10 commercial coffee farms on Hawaii Island: (i) conventional management including frequent sprays of pesticides and few rounds of sanitation and harvesting, and (ii) cultural control-focused management consisting of few sprays of pesticides and frequent sanitation and harvesting. Cultural management resulted in significantly lower mean CBB infestation (4.6% vs. 9.0%), total defects (5.5% vs. 9.1%), and CBB damage to processed coffee (1.6% vs. 5.7%) compared to conventional management. Additionally, yields were higher (mean increase of 3,024 lbs of cherry/acre) and harvested more efficiently (4.8 vs. 7.9 raisins/tree) on culturally managed vs. conventional farms. Lastly, the cost of chemical controls was 55% lower and the net benefit of frequent harvesting was 48% higher on cultural vs. conventional farms. Our findings demonstrate that frequent and efficient harvesting is an effective and economically viable alternative to frequent pesticide applications.