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CLOSE THIS BOOKBetter Farming Series 23 - Coffee (FAO - INADES, 1977, 36 p.)
Choosing a site and preparing the plantation
VIEW THE DOCUMENTChoosing the site
VIEW THE DOCUMENTClearing the site
VIEW THE DOCUMENTTracing rows and digging holes for planting
VIEW THE DOCUMENTCovering the bare soil
VIEW THE DOCUMENTSheltering the young coffee trees
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPlanting coffee trees in the plantation

Better Farming Series 23 - Coffee (FAO - INADES, 1977, 36 p.)

Choosing a site and preparing the plantation

Choosing the site

17. If a coffee tree is to grow well, it needs more than anything else a soil of good structure, permeable and deep.

The coffee tree has tap roots.
The tap root goes straight down into the soil.
The branch roots go down very deep.
The soil must have a good structure so that the roots can penetrate well.
You can improve the soil structure by spreading manure around the base of the coffee trees.
The soil must be deep, so that the roots can go down deep.
Never plant coffee trees in soil which has a hard layer or, if you do, break up the hard layer.


Root system of the coffee tree .

Clearing the site

18. With the traditional method coffee is often grown in the forest region. Before making a plantation, growers cut down and pull out the trees, and burn everything.

This Is a bad method.
In this way the soil is left bare, without protection against sun and rain.
The humus is destroyed and the soil becomes less fertile.
The coffee trees do not grow well and do not yield many berries.

19. It Is bettor not 10 remove all the trees.

Cut first the tall weeds and the smaller trees. Then at once cover the soil either with the vegetation you have cut, or by sowing a cover crop.

Trace rows, put in pegs as markers and dig holes. Remove the large, useless trees, but leave trees which cast shade and can therefore protect the young coffee trees against the sun.

Tracing rows and digging holes for planting

20. With traditional methods, the trees are most often planted In a haphazard way

The coffee trees are not planted in rows.
There is not the same distance between them.

When they are too far apart, they do not use all the soil.
When they are too close, they grow badly.

You should plant In rows.

First trace the rows for the coffee trees, leaving 3 metres between rows.

Along each row, mark out with pegs the spot where the coffee trees are to go.

Leave 3 metres between trees.

In this way you can plant about 1000 coffee trees per hectare.

21. Diggings the holes

Before planting the coffee seedlings you must dig holes in order to stir the soil and loosen it.

Dig the holes two months before planting the coffee trees.

The holes should be about 50 centimetres long, 50 centimetres wide and 50 centimetres deep.

When you are digging a hole, do not put together the soil from above and the soil from below: make two separate heaps.

Covering the bare soil

You have now cut down the weeds and the smaller trees, and you have traced the rows where you will plant the coffee trees.

22. But the soil is bare If you leave the soil bare, the rain will spoil the soil and destroy its good structure.

Water washes away the mineral salts, and the sun very quickly decomposes humus.

The soil becomes poorer and does not feed the coffee trees well enough.

So the coffee trees will not yield many berries.

23. You must cover the soil to protect It against erosion

You can cover the soil

· either by mulching

You can leave on the ground the vegetation you have cut, or you can put down palm fronds.

In this way the soil is protected against sun and rain.

The rotting leaves give the soil organic matter.

· or by a cover crop

Between the rows of coffee trees, you can sow legumes.

They also protect the soil.

Legumes give nitrogen to the soil.

Sheltering the young coffee trees

You have not removed all the other trees; you have left some large ones to protect the soil against sun and rain.

When you have covered the soil either by a mulch or a cover crop, you can cut down the remaining large trees.

24. But the coffee tree Is a delicate plant

Young coffee trees do not like too much sun.
Young coffee trees need to grow in the shade.
Often, a few large trees are left on the plantation.

Trees with long branches and many leaves provide shade for the young coffee trees.

Sometimes all the trees are cut down and other trees are planted, which grow quickly and give enough shade.

In some regions there are many clouds, so that it is not always necessary to provide shade.

Then all the other trees can be cut down.
Dry winds are very bad for young coffee trees.

In regions where a dry desert wind blows, the plantation must be sheltered by a line of trees.

Planting coffee trees in the plantation

25. After you have grown your coffee seedlings in seed beds and a nursery, you can plant the seedlings from the nursery in the plantation.

The day before you plant the seedlings In the plantation

· Remove a few leaves from each coffee seedling.
· The seedling will then lose less moisture.

A few hours before taking the seedlings out of the nursery

· Water the soil.
· Then lift the seedlings from the nursery beds with a spade or a hoe.
· Be very careful not to break the roots.

Next sort out the coffee seedlings.

Throw away diseased plants and plants that have a twisted tap root.

You can dip the roots of the seedlings into liquid mud, so that the coffee trees will take root again easily.

26. When to plant coffee trees

Plant your young coffee trees during the rainy season. Choose a day after it has rained a lot, and when the sky is cloudy.

Plant your young coffee trees when they are about six or seven months old, or when they are 15 to 18 months old.

27. How to plant coffee trees

A few days before planting, fill in the holes you have dug.
At the bottom of the hole, put the soil you have dug out from the top, and on top put the soil you have dug out from below.
You may mix the soil with manure.

When you are ready to plant, make a small hole with your hand or a machete. In this small hole place your young coffee tree. Be very careful not to twist the tap root.

Leave the crown above the ground surface. Pack the soil down well around the tap root. For the first few days, protect the young coffee tree from the sun with a palm frond.


Leave the crown above the ground surface

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