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Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers

Coffee wilt disease

Gibberella xylarioides

Recognize the problem

Coffee wilt disease can kill coffee plants. At first, the leaves of affected plants become yellow, wilt, shrivel and fall off. The disease causes blue-black staining of the wood below the bark "ganda". Finally, the tree loses all leaves and dies.


Coffee wilt disease is caused by a fungus which spreads quickly within the tree. It will also spread from diseased trees to healthy trees in planting material, water, soil and on tools and shoes. The fungus can survive for a long time in coffee material and soil. Heat and disinfectant will kill the fungus on tools and shoes. Arabica coffee, including the varieties Batian and Ruiru 11, are resistant to the disease.


  • There is no cure for coffee wilt disease.
  • When working on the farm, inspect trees often for symptoms of the disease.
  • If you think a tree has the disease, scratch off some bark from the base of the tree. Check for blue-black staining of the wood.
  • If the wood is stained, cut the tree down near the base. If possible, also remove all roots from the soil.
  • Do not move parts of the tree to other areas of the farm.
  • If the tree is dry, destroy the plant parts by burning in a fire.
  • When the tree is burning, heat the tools in fire or wash them with disinfectant. Wash hands in soap and water immediately afterwards.
  • If the tree is not dry, leave it to dry for several days and then burn.
  • Before walking away from the diseased tree, disinfect footwear by washing boots or shoes with a mix of half water and half bleach. If you have mixed a sprayer with fungicide, you can also spray your boots to avoid spreading the disease.
  • Replant with Arabica coffee. Otherwise, replant with an alternative crop or leave the area fallow for at least one year.

The recommendations in this factsheet are relevant to: Ghana, Kenya

Authors: Abdul Rehman, Eduardo Hidalgo, Mike Rutherford

©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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