Don’t Let Coffee Die

by Nathan Detwiler, Sustainable Plant Systems major

Early morning sunlight filters through the clouds and through the glass garage door window. You fire up your laptop and reply to that email from your coworker who you still catch up with even though they are three states away. Bessie Smith is singing in the background connecting your mind with the reality that life isn’t always happy though it might still be beautiful. Reaching out your hand you take up the still hot mug of coffee you had just set down. You sip the coffee recognizing the distinct flavor Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and smile.

Coffee is a very important aspect of modern culture, and has an important economic and social role in our economy. Like every other agronomic crop, coffee faces many disease challenges. One of these disease challenges that has recently affected coffee production is Coffee Rust. Coffee Rust (Hemileia vastatrix) is a fungal pathogen and currently causes severe economic losses in coffee production. In the 1860’s Coffee Rust decimated coffee production on the island of Ceylon and that’s why tea is grown there now.

Coffee plays a unique role as the most important agricultural product in international trade. In 2012, Coffee Rust showed up again to cause another disease epidemic, this time in Latin America and the Caribbeans. Coffee prices skyrocketed as the disease slashed production. Coffee producers were unable to effectively control the disease due to lack of training and poor resource availability. Fortunately this catastrophe has sparked renewed research and development for the coffee industry.

APSnet > Coffee rust > Coffee > Ethiopian yirgacheffe

Nate Detwiler is an student at The Ohio State University where he studies  Horticulture. A coffee enthusiast and former barista, Nate daily enjoys making and discovering new coffees. He also works at a local organic vegetable farm and is fascinated with the importance of food as an economic commodity and social connector.
View > Nate’s photo journal

This blog post was an assignment for Societal Issues: Pesticides, Alternatives and the Environment (PLNTPTH 4597). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the class, Department of Plant Pathology or the instructor.

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