Honduran coffee production, and exports, will hit a record high in 2015-16 as Central America’s top bean grower reaps the benefit of efforts to counter rust, which badly hurt the region’s output two seasons ago.
Honduras – Latin America’s third-ranked coffee exporter after Brazil and Colombia, and renowned as an origin of higher quality supplies – will produce 6.11m bags of beans in 2015-16, on an October-to-September basis, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Tegucigalpa Honduras said.
That would take to 37% the rebound in output from a low last season, as coffee rust spread through the country, as it did through other Central American producing nations.
And it would lift output – all of arabica beans – above the record 5.60m bags achieved in 2011-12, before the outbreak of rust, caused by the roya fungus, which cuts yields dramatically and can result in tree death.
In fact, Honduran output was less badly affected by rust than production from some other countries thanks to long-standing efforts to counter the fungus, which has a rich history of causing crop disasters.
Indeed, it is because of roya that Sri Lanka is better known for tea, with the fungus in the 19th century decimating the country’s coffee plantations.
“Damage was reduced because Honduras has been carrying out research and produced leaf rust resistant coffee varieties, which producers have been using for about two decades,” the USDA bureau said.
And some of the plantations which were affected by rust, but have now been replanted with resistant varieties, are beginning to return to production.
“The replanting of new trees to replace the old ones… began three years ago,” the bureau said.
“Those trees are starting to produce, and provide an increase in volume of the coffee harvest in the forecasted year.”
The extra supplies will lift Honduran exports in 2015-16 to 5.44m bags, up 10.2% year on year on the bureau’s estimates, and beating the record 5.29m bags set four years before.
Germany is the top buyer of Honduran coffee, which is a key earner for the economy of the Country of Honduras, being one of its top exports and employing some 30% of the population.
Government support measures are fostering a continued increase in plantation area, seen reaching 312,000 hectares next season.
Much of this expansion is occurring at altitudes above the 1,000m required for specialty coffee – although this comes from trees not resistant to rust, and which require enhanced husbandry to avoid the onset of the disease.
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