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Plantwise Factsheets for Farmers

Coffee berry disease

Colletotrichum kahawae

Recognize the problem

This is a disease caused by a fungus (Colletotrichum). It is also known as brown blight of coffee. It forms dark depressed wounds on green berries. The disease is especially seen during the wet season.


The whole berry rots. The berries dry out and prematurely drop off the coffee tree. The disease develops faster during the wet season. It does not kill the trees, but it lives within the stem. Signs of the disease are very rare on leaves. It is spread by rain splash, by coffee pickers, birds and movement of infected seedlings. All stages of growth of the plant can be infected but symptoms are only seen on the green and ripe berries.
The disease depends upon the availability of water for its development.


  • Ruiru 11 is resistant to coffee berry disease and coffee rust.
  • Robusta coffee is resistant to coffee berry disease.
  • Prevent the accumulation of standing water to limit the spread of the disease.
  • Remove old stems and strip off diseased berries to reduce sources of disease.
  • Prune the coffee trees to increase flow of air through the foliage; this also enables them to be sprayed effectively.
  • Spray fungicides at the onset of flowering for 5 months.
  • Spray twice a month, on top of the foliage. Spray either with Chlorothalonil or Copper fungicides at (4 l/ha). This will protect the coffee berries until harvest. Spraying on the underside of leave will help to control coffee leaf rust as well.

When using a pesticide, always wear protective clothing and follow the instructions on the product label, such as dosage, timing of application, and pre-harvest interval.

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

Authors: Andrew Mugalula Musoke, Jane Frances Asaba, Joseph Mulema
MAAIF, Plantwise
tel: +256 771873737 email:
©CAB International. Published under a CC-BY-SA 4.0 licence.

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