Marc Meisner, Nick Yamauchi, and past Kona Research Station staff have maintained a Kona coffee root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne konaensis) research plot for 11 years. This pest occurs on approximately 85 percent of Kona coffee acreage and is also found in Ka‘u. It can cause overall yield losses of about 60 percent and even tree death. Data is being collected and analyzed to determine the long-term effects of the parasitic nematodes on eight different coffee rootstocks, and the information is being disseminated to Hawai‘i’s coffee industry.
In January, farmers participated in a fun-filled morning at the station, learning about coffee root-knot nematode research conducted there. Roxana Myers of USDA Agricultural Research Service and Alyssa Cho, Stuart Nakamoto, Andrea Kawabata, and Jen Burt of CTAHR presented on the basics of root-knot and other nematodes, grafting coffee trees, and the costs and benefits of planting grafted coffee trees. Then participants toured the nematode field and learned about current research. They observed first-hand the effects of root-knot nematode on coffee 11 years after inoculation, the differences in rootstock varieties and grafted trees, and tree vigor and losses, and they got hands-on practice during a proper nematode sampling procedure demonstration session.