Let´s talk about Roya

Roya is a disease caused by the Hemileia Vastatrix fungus. It germinates with water and young living plant tissue, and causes leaves to fall down from the trees leaving coffee cherries exposed to the sun and wind thus producing:

  1. Acceleration of the maturity process
  2. Cherries that will not be able to reach ripeness
  3. Lighter weight cherries
  4. Ripeness in different stages, not all at the same time
  5. Damage to the vegetation growth that will support more than 50 to 70% of the next year´s crop (2013)

In normal rainy seasons Roya begins its multiplication and dissemination between May and September. But the highest incidence is observed between the months of December and January (dry season).

Similarly to what happened in 1981 and 1982, the heavy rains that were received in El Salvador in 2011 and 2012 have not allowed Roya to diminish its levels as it would on a normal year. On the contrary, it gave it the perfect condition to grow rapidly in April and May 2012; thus El Salvador´s coffee forest have experience heavy Roya problems in August and September.

Due to the world wide climate changes, Roya is a problem that is not only seen in low areas, but it is now affecting high grown and strictly high grown crops.

Farms that are most affected are those with:

  1. Old Coffee trees and trees that have not been pruned
  2. High incidence of ground plagues
  3. Soils with bad nutrition and/or high acidity
  4. Varieties that are not resistant to Roya such as those of the Arabica variety (95% of the coffee forests in El Salvador)

For those farms that still have one or more months before they begin picking, PROCAFE has recommended to apply a systemic fungicide and a foliar fertilizer containing Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium, Boron and Zinc.

The proper management of our farms through renovation of the coffee forest, pruning, fertilizations, plague control and fungicide applications in March and August have allowed us to have a low incidence of Roya in our fields (between 10 and 20%). At the time we are following Procafe´s recommendation and are applying in addition to the systemic fungicide Boron, Zinc and organic juices to help prevent mayor damages.

Source of Information on Roya: Procafe, El Salvador

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