San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Two new types of coffee rust found in Costa Rica

The Costa Rican Coffee Institute (ICAFE) this week reported the discovery of two new types of coffee rust fungus that had not been previously registered in any country in Central America.

The species were found after ICAFE sent rust samples collected in various regions across the country to the Rust Research Center in Portugal.

The new fungus types were found in samples collected at coffee plantations in the southern canton of Coto Brus, next to the border with Panama, and also in the Central Valley.

Coffee rust fungus caused the loss of 35 percent of coffee crops this year. Although ICAFE experts say climatic conditions this year are more favorable, they do not rule out a new spike in affected areas in October.

ICAFE already began analysis of the new types of the fungus to determine whether chemicals currently used in the country are effective against these new species. Results are expected to be ready in late September.

In July, lawmakers approved regulations for a fund that would provide $40 million to help renovate coffee plantations in areas most affected by rust fungus. The funds also will be used to finance social programs, offer low-interest loans and debt reduction. 

ICAFE reported earlier this year that the 2012-2013 harvest season will drop from 2.24 million sacks of 46 kilograms to 1.8 million, the lowest in the last 38 seasons.

They also estimate that the next harvest season (2013-2014) will decrease by at least 400,000 sacks as a direct result of coffee rust.

Rust fungus (Hemileia vastratrix) affects the leaves of a coffee bush until it completely dries the plant.

Contact L. Arias at

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