You may have heard the term Leaf Rust or Roya being mentioned in the trade recently. Before we advise the possible problems and implications that Roya brings with it, let us detail the cause.
What is it ?
Coffee leaf rust or Hemileia Vestatrix which is not, as the name suggests a Harry Potter villain but a fungus of whom spores are spread by wind and rain.
“Rust” affects the leaves which eventually fall off the tree leaving the fruit exposed.
If not treated this will consequently affect the possible future crop significantly.
Infection increases with the presence of standing water, high temperatures with warm rain & humid conditions.
Symptoms: Yellow/orange patches (like rust) in spots on the leaf that if un treated will spread to the whole leaf, which will eventually drop off.
Where is it ?
We are receiving reports of “Roya” from most of the significant South/Central American origins. Coffee output in Central America and Mexico may tumble as a result of the disease. If prompt action is not taken by individual farmers or governments to put emergency measures to protect farms responsible for 14 percent of global production in place, then we may see a significant fall in production for the 2013-2014 crops.
Roya can be stopped from spreading by quick diagnosis and efficient use of approved fungicides.
Market affect ?
At the moment – not much as the markets have not reacted. (As the scale of the possible problem is still being quantified and assessed). We are however, seeing differentials strengthen up nearby and forward offers are being withheld by worried exporters.
As we have all discovered over the last few years we are at the whim of large funds speculating on our markets and it does not take much for a re-think on their coffee strategy.
We will keep you informed of any further reports