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Links Between Coffee Leaf Rust, Weather and Climate: A Literature Review

Coffee leaf rust (CLR) is the most destructive coffee disease in the world (Luaces et al., 2011) and has negatively impacted coffee production since the late 1800s (McCook, 2006). CLR damages coffee plants and decreases yields, which in turn reduces labor, influences wages, affects market prices, and inhibits farmers€™ ability to manage their farms. The cumulative effects reduce farmer income, affecting livelihoods and food security, and force some to abandon their farms or switch to different crops altogether (WCR, 2014).

In recent years, CLR epidemics have been particularly damaging in Latin American and the Caribbean (Avelino et al., 2015). In 2012€“2013, CLR epidemics cost farmers in these regions an estimated $500 million in lost production alone (ICO, 2013) and led to reduced production for at least two years (Avelino et al., 2015). Efforts to minimize the impacts of future outbreaks have led to research on new coffee varieties and, in the case of Colombia, large-scale programs to replace susceptible varieties with more resistant ones (De Silva and Tisdell, 1988; Arneson, 2000; Avelino et al., 2015). Capacitybuilding efforts that enable better management also have been implemented (e.g. De Silva and Tisdell, 1988; Staver et al., 2001; Shiomi et al., 2002; Santamaria and Bayman, 2005; Jackson et al., 2012; Zambolim et al., 2016). These efforts will be aided by the development of early warning systems (e.g. Alves et al., 2011; Luaces et al., 2011; Perez-Ariza et al., 2012; Avelino et al., 2015) and decision-support tools (e.g. Meira et al., 2009; Cintra et al., 2011). The provision of climate-related information has been offered as a vital element in these efforts (Avelino et al., 2015).

The causes of and responses to CLR are complex and demonstrate the multi-faceted relationship between disease characteristics, environmental conditions, climate and weather triggers, and the human actions that promote or hinder the disease. Although there are many factors to consider when managing CLR, climate and weather information has the potential to help farmers with disease management, but has thus far been under used. This document is step toward assessing the state of knowledge roles of weather and climate in supporting the growth and spread of CLR. It draws from more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, reports, and presentations related to CLR and coffee management to provide a summary of the current state of knowledge on the climate and weather influences on CLR.

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