A selection of a cross between Timor Hybrid 832/1 and Caturra. In Central American coffee breeding, T8667 is an important coffee leaf-rust-resistant plant. T8667 has its origins with the earliest days of the Central American regional consortium called PROMECAFE, which was founded in 1978 with funding from USAID’s Regional Office for Central American Programs (ROCAP) and Instituto Agronômico de Campinas (IAC) in Brazil to respond to the threat posed by the recent arrival of coffee leaf rust in the region.
In 1978, the Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza (CATIE) research station in Costa Rica received fifth generation (F5) progeny of T8667 from the University Federal de Viçosa in Brazil, which had done initial selection on populations created from a cross of Timor Hybrid 832/1 and Caturra at the Centro de Investigação das Ferrugens do Cafeeiro of Portugal (CIFC). Their designation for the cross was H26. In Central America, it was given the designation T-8667 (“T” represents Turrialba, where the CATIE research station is based). Private farms in Central America did further "mass selection" of T-8667 ("mass selection" means that a group of individuals are selected based on their superior performance, seed from these plants is bulked to form a new generation, and then the process is repeated), and seed from these experiments was distributed throughout the region, particularly in the late 1980s. In Costa Rica, CATIE performed additional selection of T-8667 to create Costa Rica 95; IHCAFE in Honduras did the same to create the variety Lempira; and El Salvador did the same to create Catisic.
Detailed history of the Catimor group of varieties
In 1958 or 1959, the CIFC, famous for its research into coffee leaf rust, received a lot of Timor Hybrid seeds from the island of Timor. Timor Hybrid is a natural cross between C. arabica and C. canephora (Robusta) that appeared spontaneously on the island of Timor in 1920s. It’s Robusta genetics conferred rust resistance into the variety. From the two shipments of seeds that CIFC received, they selected two plants for use in breeding based on their high resistance to leaf rust. In 1967, breeders in Portugal began work to create new varieties of coffee that would be resistant to the disease, but also have a compact stature that could be planted more densely. Some of the rust-resistant Timor Hybrid lines were crossed with compact Caturra to create different hybrid lines:
- Red Caturra CIFC 19/1 x HDT CIFC 832/1 = HW26
- Red Caturra CIFC 19/1 x HDT CIFC 832/2 = H46
After some initial testing at IAC in Brazil, the hybrids were dubbed “Catimor.” They were created just in time for the arrival of leaf rust in the Americas. From CIFC, derivatives of these original Catimor crosses were distributed throughout the world for additional local selection and eventual release to farmers. It’s important to note that, contrary to common belief, Catimor is not a distinct variety. Instead, it is a group of many different distinct varieties with similar parentage.
In Malawi, the Coffee Research Unit of the Tea Research Foundation adopted five Catimor progenies. In Papua New Guinea, six Catimor lines were selected and released. Catimors have also undergone generational selection and field testing in many places in Latin America.