Rainfall and cropping patterns in relation to coffee berry disease


  • *Paper V in a series on coffee berry disease in Kenya.

‡Rothamsted Experimental Station, Harpenden, Herts.


Both the increase in severity and extent of coffee berry disease (CBD) during the 1960s and the failure of early-season sprays to control it have been attributed to changes in climatic conditions and cropping patterns. A critical analysis of rainfall data since 1951, when CBD first appeared in the East Rift coffee districts of Kenya, produces no evidence that conditions affecting CBD development were any different in the 1960s than in the 1950s, in either high-or low-altitude coffee-growing areas. A marked increase in overlapping crops occurred during the late 1950s, and this was caused mainly by a change in pruning methods. The increased disease hazard from this change of cropping pattern cannot account for the failure of early season sprays, which were successful before 1962.

An estimate of the time of main crop flowering shows that only in those years when flowering was early and the rainy season finished early did early-season sprays achieve substantial benefits. It is concluded that their effect in these years was obtained by fungicidal protection of the crop throughout most of the rainy season, and that their failure in other years contributed to the worsening disease situation.