More than 60,000ha of coffee plantations in the Central Highland province of Dak Nong have been hit by early falling berries over the past month, leaving local farmers hundreds of billions of dong out of pocket.
Around 30-40 per cent of berries have fallen, and the harvest is likely to be thousands of tonnes less than expected.
Local farmers have tried a number of methods to stem the tide, but to no avail.
Nguyen Bao Hai, a farmer from Duc Minh Commune, Dak Mil District planted 2.5ha of coffee and expected to harvest five tonnes per hectare. However, he too detected the disease on his farm two weeks ago.
"The coffee berries also fell in previous years, but the number was small, this year too many have fallen," said Hai.
Hai sprayed plant protection substances on his crop but they had little effect.
Experts from the district’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said one of the reasons for the issue was that fertiliser prices had recently increased, so farmers were using it sparingly.
The trees were also being attacked by pseudococcus, a type of mealy bug, and on top of that, there had been more rain than in previous years, which combined with the high humidity, had made the berries’ stalks rotten.
Dak Mil District has the highest coffee area and productivity in the province, with more than 18,000ha and productivity of 2.3-2.8 tonnes per hectare.
Trinh Nguyen Vu, branch director of the Dong Xanh Co Ltd in the district, said that the coffee farms had been hit by anthracnose whose scientific name is Coletotricum.
The disease spreads quickly on the wind in high humidity. It appeared in the province a month ago but local farmers did not discover it in time and it spread.
"The disease can be treated within three or four days if it is discovered early," said Vu.
To treat the disease, farmers can use plant protection substances such as Napcuper 200cc or Mapgreen 200cc. The substance should be mixed with water and sprayed directly onto the trees, he said.
The Dak Nong Plant Protection Department asked district plant protection stations to help local farmers’ associations to apply proper measures to treat the disease.
In the first stage, experts should advise farmers to put down enough fertiliser and spray plant protection substances to limit the number of falling berries.