Coffee "rust" is result of climate change?

That is what an article asserts. Maybe so, maybe not but it does a good job of explaining the problem and the consequences.

The article appears in The Guardian under the title Latin America: how climate change will wipe out coffee crops – and farmers.

[T]he rust cannot survive temperatures below 10C. In this region of Nicaragua it usually occurred only below 1,300 metres. Up in the hills, cold nights and drier weather kept the disease at bay. And so that's where the coffee farms are.

Most of the people I met said they had never seen it until three years ago: some believed it had been deliberately sprayed from the skies by aircraft. Some thought it had spread from the banana trees that shade the coffee plants and provide crucial food for farmers. But most agree that in recent years the weather has become hotter, wetter and less predictable.

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"Most of the people I met"....

followed by a few classic made up reasons from porch dwellers... and solsurfer who was probably the "deliberately sprayed from the skies by aircraft" guy.

A well known coffee grower (not Key West) that visits SJdS regularly told me when the latest epidemic started, that it was due to the lack of proper maintenance of the plantations and greed, cashing in on prices at that time. They did not prune, clean and rest the bushes. They went for the big bucks.

More from a different porch:

Why the epidemic occur?

It is estimated that rust first appeared in Central America just over thirty years ago, by incidence homgo Hemileia vastatrix nesting as a parasite on the leaves of the plant and prevents the process of photosynthesis, which weakens and causes the grain falls before collection stage.

The most devastating effects of the epidemic are known in other coffee producing countries date back to the mid-nineteenth century, when the fungus over for more than a decade with the entire production on the island of Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The fungus affects virtually all varieties except coffee robusta, shown immune to its effect, and is especially aggressive with arabica.

According to research conducted in the field by Action Against Hunger, the current issue of the involvement of rust in Nicaragua are not cyclical nature but structural, and motivated by the lack of proper maintenance of the plantations, where most exceed fifty years old. Specifically, excess moisture and shade coffee farms are those that create optimal conditions for the spread of the fungus.

In addition, the weakening of plants favors another disease, anthracnose, which directly attacks the grain, causing blackening and at least the same quality is reduced, as has been also noting the ACF-International organization as a agronomic study of the problem.

As methods of preventing and controlling the pest have been used fungicides based on copper sulfates, and as an alternative to obtain organic produce numerous essays biological control, ie, introducing planting a predator of the fungus have been made ​​that causes illness, which in this case would be another fungus.

One Serious Aspect

of the problem is, one grower who does things right can be close to another who does it all wrong --or as Juanno's roof dogs suggest, simply does nothing at all but pick what cherries he can. This same grower is reluctant to replace diseased plants . ..his plants suffer from excessive shading, as the bananas become a more important source of revenue . . .and his land is filthy with decaying vegetation, mostly from old banana trees. This describes my neighbor to the east.

Despite what Rebecca believes, many of the campesinos are NOT the "noble savage stewards of the land". Things are done they way they have always been done, cash for the small grower is tight, and not a lot of technical help is available.

At Prodecorp I saw a suggested use of that cloth used for grow houses, strung along fences, to block the fungus from spreading. This would be more than many growers could afford. The spore formed by the rust is a very light dust that would be easily lofted by the wind, so the cloth fence would not catch all of it anyway.

In Honduras I found a systemic fungicide that helps the plants resist rust, specifically developed for coffee. This idea is commonly used by rose growers; roses also suffer from rust. Of course, we don't eat roses, and the coffee flavor could be affected by the systemic if the timing wasn't correct and application wasn't accurate.

There are a lot of growers doing things right in Nicaragua. Their coffee shows less devastation from rust that some a short distance away, coffee that is not well taken care of. This last year had to favor the larger growers who have their own beneficios: the beneficios would have bought or at least contracted for the coffee when the price was low, and benefited from the sharp spike in coffee prices that occurred after most of the coffee was off the trees.

Again, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Yes, let's attribute a belief to me that I don't have in that

…simple form, or even at all. Coffee is a cash crop and the growers are not, on the by-and-large, with exceptions, that concerned with how the stuff tastes. I do have friends who care about their drinking coffee. Exceptions all over the place. Most of the campesinos spend as much time as possible on their food crops -- so absentee landlords get about a third the crop that more vigilant landlords get, and it's especially telling when the absentee landlord turns into the vigilant landlord and sees the change in productivity from the same land.

On Fred's land, the rust was more common in low areas. Marco Gonzalez has land closer to Jinotega now and is planting rust resistant bushes. Not sure what his sister is doing, or what my Spanish teacher's grandmother is doing.

One of the things about growing crops or stock for a living rather than for pleasure is that the cost/benefit ratio has to be good enough to make someone a living, otherwise, cut it all down and put cattle on the land. Or beans. Or that trio of beans, corn, and bananas.

There are some fairly carefully thought out rules for what people can pay for land and have the land paid off from the crop in a reasonable time. Also, how much land one needs to make irrigation profitable. If you're growing crops or stock for fun, not profit, you can ignore those rules, and often doing that is more fun especially if you can hire other people to do the actual work.

Rebecca Brown

I Saw Another

larger beneficio in Matagalpa sampling, roasting, grinding, and tasting every load that came in. I believe it was Sol . . . Matagalpa coffee doesn't have the buzz that Dipilto coffee enjoys,, but there is a lot of it.

The beneficios don't talk about how they buy their coffee. They'll talk about when the best beans are available (middle of the picking season); talk about drying (sun vs shade). What they pay is a bit of a trade secret.

These are not stupid people, so if a grower is not concerned about taste, or is not picking out the bad cherries, or his granos are unusually small, he's not fooling anyone. And the money he's getting for his crop probably reflects that. The poorest quality beans I saw being sold were in a public market in San Juan del Rio Coco. It's was January, they were asking $1 /lb.

So, there is a local market for crap, sold as usual to Nicaraguans. Maybe that's why they sugar the be-jesus out of the coffee, so they can't taste it.

The Cup of Excellence competition was suspended last year

I've heard that it was somewhat fixed by the Taiwanese -- but don't know if the source was reliable.

Highland granos, other than Maragogype (Elephant Bean) are smaller than lower-elevation coffee from what I've been reading. Ethiopean coffee can be quite small.

There have been enough experiments with taste to show that there's a placebo effect --- see various French wine tests. Maragogype is occasionally marketed as a rare and amazing bean. Most of the sources don't praise it that highly.

I used to drink "fine" teas. Basically, with either greens or oolongs, if you don't drink them within three months of harvest, you're getting the ghost of the tea. Black/red tea is winter tea. Nobody in the US has had a first rate oolong from Uptons or Specialteas.

It's like moonshine, only buy from people who drink what they make/grow.

Most of us after our thirties are dealing with progressively less and less acute sense of smell and taste. If you like what you're drinking, it's drinkable coffee. I went through a period of home roasting, then decided either the coffee at the Sollentuna Hem or from the local grower's coffee shop was fine.

Most of the mediocre beans get shipped to the US for instant coffee. The very cheap green coffee here is crap, but there's always someone selling decent enough mixed beans for C$29 or 30-- not sorted for size -- that make an decent cup if roasted to just a bit after first crack. Think of it as a random blend. Most people who drink something other than instant have a friend or two who grows coffee and pan roast it.

Jinotega Department produces the bulk of the coffee that's sold out of Nicaragua. Matagalpa is second. Here in Jinotega, we've got about four or five roasters.

Rebecca Brown

There IS A

lot of maragojipe (which I think is the original spelling) buzz out there right now. Who knows what will be trendy tomorrow?

I purchased some Marago in Huixtla, Mexico for testing, and liked the taste. There is supposedly a maragogype - caturra hybrid now available, bigger bean than caturra, better taste than marago. I haven't been able to put my hands on it yet.

While all you say is true (can't taste, getting old, home roasting is a pain), there is a premium paid for a first rate bean. Whether the buyer can taste the difference is immaterial. If he thinks this is THE coffee to be drinking and serving to his friends, then price becomes irrelevant. Look at the prices paid for Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountain.

I also think any bean will be bigger if the soil is properly amended, and the plant is drip irrigated in the dry season. I saw what that did for grapes thirty years ago.

When everyone started drinking Merlot twenty years ago, I scratched my head in bewilderment, but it was what everyone was asking for at the time. While I don't buy into all of the hype "the sex goddess of coffee ... in full glorious Technicolor",, some people do and they vote with their wallets:

So, it goes beyond growing the best bean, consistently.. That's important. But, the marketing is probably more important. I learned that from Olman at Buenos Aires. I'd like to get the $450 /quintal he's getting for premium beans -not an impossible goal. He's unusual in having both (very large) finca and the beneficio. That maximizes his profit, his quality control, and it also explains the new Ford F150 truck he drives.

There is serious money in Nicaraguan coffee. The time I spent in the beneficios in Nicaragua and Honduras really opened my eyes.

Unfortunately, the campesino is not going to see this money ...

It's spelled different ways

People grow it for house coffee (I've had three sources) since it's a big tree that shades other coffee apparently. It's not part of the standard commercial shipments as it doesn't fit standard equipment. It's apparently a lower land coffee than most varieties -- again from what I've read. What I got (and before reading about it much) was a black pepper undertaste. The variety may have some Coffee.liberica (spelling) in it. Freddie was going to give me part of his house stash as green coffee, but that never happened. I did buy some from my Spanish teacher's grandmother last year.

A friend who drank Blue Mountain in Jamaica said it really is that good.

Campesinos tend to make some of that crop vanish into thin air. A friend here said that he got a third of the coffee if he didn't spend three days on the farm.

If there's something people grow for the house bean but not commercially, that's the way I'd do it, too.

With stuff where the end product is alkaloids or similar, stressing the plant just right seems to produce the best flavor or drug. Coca plants grow lots of places but don't produce cocaine except in the Andes and in one country in Southern Asia. Tea that is planted at close to freezing temperature during part of the year, limit of the plant's range, produces the best teas. California wine grapes are tiny compared to table grapes.

Rebecca Brown

Black Beans From

Selva Negra:

The had a surprising amount of rust when I was there in late January. Note the black beans in the pic, those are the result of anthracnose. Anthracnose is bacterial where la Roya is a fungus, but La Roya weakens the plant and facilitates the attack by the bacteria.

The pint of this post is, Selva Negra is high, climate change should not be a factor. Selva Negra is organic, so perhaps feels that they can let God take care of their plants. I thought that there shading -for their altitude- was excessive too, perhaps contributing to conditions that benefited the rust fungus.

Climate change (aka Global Warming) is being blamed for everything,, so why not coffee rust? When my cat got pregnant last year I was convinced that Global Warming had played a part.

While not impressed with their coffee, I was impressed with a lot of other things Selva Negra has accomplished, and I bought a bunch of their cheese. More importantly, they are firmly on the Ruta de Turista and there were quite a few there the day I was there.

Rebecca would have loved the uniform bus load of pre-med students wearing their scrubs and with stethoscopes around their necks.

The coffee grower I referred to above

made it to the last 47 in the cup of excellence. The finals are on now.

His finca is "LAS PROMESAS DE SAN BLAS" en Dipilto .

I guess thats not as clear as it could be

His coffee is in the finals.

Like any number of things, people can or can't afford to make

…capital improvements. Also, if people are getting a higher premium for organic, then they have to check the books and other growers' experiences to see what happens if they lose organic or Rainforest certification. Coffee here used to be even more shade grown than current practices, and in some areas (like Diplito) the game, birds, and native orchids have been decimated. Selva Negra is trying to do both the coffee and eco-tourism here.

Rebecca Brown

i have 15 manzanas..

close to 6m in cacao..2 1/2 coffee..just planted this yr 2 m of coffee..working now on 6 m of pasture..want to put some cattle on it..were leasing it out to cattle now..what surprised me about 6 months ago..they hired a techie to come up and show them how to trim the trees and stuff..he was there for like 3 or 4 days..since my neighbors work for should help them with there stuff too..if they were smart enough to watch and ask ???//..most people want to do better..they just cannt afford to do it right..i like the campasinos a lot..good people

like the mann said..

it usally takes money to make retired and enjoying it..and it seems ure enjoying what ure were all happy..thats what problem..this old body is pretty beat up..or i would be living on my place..i like the laid back life

what u might call crap.. sorry not everyone is a coffee or wine conisour ..waslala isnt that hi elevation our coffee isnt as good as ures..and i know that..but look at the amount of folgers and maxwell house they sell..kwp..u do a lot of good thingts..i like readinng ure posts..but tired of hereing how better ure stuff is than everyone elses..but keep posting..i do read all ure stuff..andy

I Apologize . . .

I can be a bit condescending at times.

You're right about Folgers, Maxwell House, and the worst of all, Farmers Brothers . .

When I do something, I go at it balls to the wall. Often with a waste of energy, time and money. And, it antagonizes the people around me.

no problem..

just sometimes u get tired of hearing how bad everything is here..the concrete blocks suck..the carpenters dont know what there doing..honestly..i think life here is pretty good..i just sit back and enjoy it..and really..i probably run my farm..terribly..and the nice part about it..i can enjoy it and dont care..have a good day

Good points

I, once again, see this as the Libertarian side of Nicaragua.

Concrete blocks: While there are quality block available (just look at what they use to build a La Colonia or Walmart), you have the option of buying non-structural ones. No legislation to set standards.

Carpenters: No carpenter's union and such. So, you can buy a half-assed carpenter for almost nothing but you will have to supervise him. You can certainly find first-world quality carpenters and much less than first-world prices.

Concrete Blocks And

such . .

There is pretty much everything you need here,, I see it too in the construction of buildings like that new mall in Estelí. Someone had both the materials they needed, and knew what they were doing. It's just not generally or easily available.

Concrete blocks: you are limited to what is available locally because of transportation costs. Fuel is a big driver in Nicaragua, shouldn't be as expensive as it is . .. So you have to make do, and work around the structural shortcomings. For most single story work, the blocks are adequate. ...IMO.

Carpenters and masons and electricians: You just have to train them yourself. There is no other way, especially in a rural area. Managua might have the people you need, maybe even Estelí, definitely not where I'm at. Giving them the tools they need really helps too, if you're looking for a finish to the work. Right person, who has that desire for excellence. It's complicated.

We old guys have a lot of learned skills that we can transfer. Once the Nicaraguans learn and accept your way of doing things, they learn hard.

I rarely have to go over something a second time with Jaido. I spend a lot of time with him on YouTube, he sees how a router works, a biscuit jointer, concrete work. This is all new to him, but once the concept sinks in he'll figure out the details himself.

There is just SO MUCH to learn -we take so much for granted, especially our use of specialized tools. We've grown up with it. These guys grew up cutting wood with machetes, and pounding nails with rocks.

Jaido then explains it all to his brothers (the rest of my crew) why the concrete can't be soupy, why if it has started to set you need to discard it or use it for fill, rather than try to add some water to it.

Jaido already does better carpentry work than two furniture shops in Condega. I don't know about finding "first rate",, maybe in Managua. A first rate tradesman of any skill is probably going to be working in CR for some serious money,, and steady work.

It's a lot of work, but I'm in it for the long haul.

The freedom to work without permits and inspections IS a huge boon. Unfortunately, I see it coming . . .and it will reflect what is happening with wells: You can hand dig a well with no permits. If you want to drill one (which makes a lot more sense), you have to commission a hydrologic study that costs as much as the well.

Was a time when the Germans liked a more bitter taste

made by processing the unripe cherries picked my mistake.

Its a good folklore story even if it may not be true.

La Roya has been known and

La Roya has been known and affected coffee for hundred of years, at least 400 years. It is the result of a copper deficiency, nothing more.