Guatemala Recovers from Coffee Rust Outbreak

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Guatemala, the number one coffee producer in Central America, is struggling to recover after a devastating epidemic of coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) hit plantations in 2012/13. Between 2012 and 2015, there was a massive 24.9 percent drop in production after the infection’s spread accelerated due to unusually high precipitation. Recovery of the coffee acreage has been painfully slow since then, with the first year-over-year increase experienced in 2017/18. In 2018/19, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) attaché report forecasts coffee production at 201 million kilograms, unchanged from the previous market year (2017/18). Due to the planting of rust-tolerant coffee varieties in both 2016/17 and 2017/18, the attaché forecast for area planted rose above the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) official estimate by 15,000 and 28,000 hectares, respectively. Despite the robusta variety’s resistance to coffee leaf rust, Guatemalan farmers prefer to raise arabica coffee. This is demonstrated by FAS’s arabica production forecast of 190.2 million kilograms compared to 10.8 million kilograms of robusta production in 2018/19. Gro Intelligence subscribers can access up-to-date data and analytics on coffee production for Guatemala and other key markets.

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