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CLOSE THIS BOOKBetter Farming Series 23 - Coffee (FAO - INADES, 1977, 36 p.)
Taking care of the plantation
VIEW THE DOCUMENT(introduction...)
VIEW THE DOCUMENTReplacing missing seedlings
VIEW THE DOCUMENTUpkeep of the soil cover and hoeing
VIEW THE DOCUMENTPruning coffee trees
VIEW THE DOCUMENTCutting back old trees
VIEW THE DOCUMENTApplying fertilizers
VIEW THE DOCUMENTProtecting trees from insects and diseases

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

Taking care of the plantation

28. When the coffee trees are planted the work is not finished.

The grower still has a lot of work to do to look after his coffee trees.

A grower who does not look after his plantation properly cannot get a good harvest of berries and will not earn much money.

To look after your plantation properly, you must:

· replace seedlings that have not grown,
· keep the soil covered and remove weeds,
· prune the coffee trees correctly,
· apply fertilizers,
· protect the coffee trees from insects and diseases.

Replacing missing seedlings

29. Sometimes certain coffee seedlings do not grow well. They remain small or die.

During the months after planting, you must look often to see whether your coffee trees are growing well.

If you see diseased or dead coffee trees, pull them out and burn them.

In their place, plant other coffee seedlings from among those you have kept in the nursery.

Upkeep of the soil cover and hoeing

30. Between the rows of coffee trees the soil must always be covered either by palm fronds or cut weeds. or by a cover crop.

Palm fronds and cut weeds keep the soil moist and protect it against erosion.

If you have a cover crop, make sure it covers the whole of the soil.

But sometimes cover plants climb on the coffee trees. In that case, cut down those plants that wind around the trunk and branches of the coffee tree.

31. Weeds often grow among the coffee tree rows.

Do not let the weeds take the nourishment away.

Hoe often but, when hoeing, be very careful not to damage the trunk and roots of the coffee trees.

Pruning coffee trees

Why coffee trees need pruning

32. The coffee tree grows too fast.

During the first few years, the tree makes many branches: it uses all its nourishment to make wood. At the first harvest, the tree yields a lot of berries.

But the coffee tree ages very quickly.

The coffee tree uses all the mineral salts of the soil in order to feed the wood of the branches.

It can no longer yield a lot of berries.

Therefore the coffee tree must be pruned so that It do not make too many branches.

The coffee tree does not develop well.

The branches of the coffee tree grow all over the place.
The coffee tree is not well- shaped and not strong.

Therefore the coffee tree must be pruned to give it a good shape.

The coffee tree grows too tall.
The coffee tree may grow to 10 or 15 metres.

It is then not easy for the grower to pick the berries. Therefore the coffee tree mud be pruned so that It is not too tall.

Every variety of coffee. tree needs different pruning.

33. Trees of Arabica, Liberica, Gros Indni and Excelsa coffee have only one main stem: one trunk only. The berries grow for several years on all parts of the branches.

Pruning these coffee trees Is simple:

· Cut off the top of the tree so that the coffee tree is not taller than 1.5 to 2 metres.
· Remove the branches at the bottom of the trunk.
· Leave only the thickest and best branches on the trunk.
· Cut away all the small branches that grow on the trunk.
· Cut away all the dead and dry branches, and all diseased branches.
· Cut away suckers; they are not needed.

Arabica coffee tree

Kouliou coffee tree

34. Trees of the Robusta, Kouilou and Petit Indni varieties have several main stems: several trunks.

Branch of Robusts coffee tree

The wood of a branch has berries only for one year. The next year, that part of the branch bears no fruit. The berries grow on the new wood which has grown during the year. A branch yields fruit for several years, but it is always a different part of the branch that bears fruit.

Pruning these coffee trees Is difficult:

Young coffee tree

A new shoot grows out of it

· Bend down the first stem and tie it to a stake.

· Let three to five main stems develop: they will bear fruit.

· Cut off the bent stem: a new stem will grow in its place.

· On the main stems, branches will grow and bear fruit. After two years of harvests, fruit will grow only on the tips of the branches: cut down these branches.

· When a main stem has borne fruit for three to five years, cut it off. In the place of the stem you cut off, a new stem or shoot will grow and bear fruit.

· Every year cut off one of the main stems.

A shoot has grown

Cut away suckers.
A sucker is a twig that grows upward out of a main stem.
A sucker never bears fruit.
Cut away also all dry or dead branches.


Suckers must be cut off close to the trunk

Cutting back old trees

35. When coffee trees in a plantation get too old they no longer yield many berries and do not bring in much money.

To make your coffee trees young again, cut them back:

· Leave on the trunk only one main stem; cut off all the others.

New stems will grow in the place of the stems you cut off.

· When the new stems have grown, cut off the old stem you have left on the trunk.

The tree becomes young again and bears a lot of berries.

Cutting back should be done at the beginning of the rainy season.
After cutting back, apply fertilizer.

New stems grow

Applying fertilizers

Fertilizers cost a lot of money.
Use fertilizers only when this will earn a lot of money.

36. It is useless to apply fertilizer in a plantation that is not well looked after.

If you do not prune your coffee trees, and you do not hoe, then you should not apply any fertilizer.

The fertilizer would do nothing except feed the wood of the branches and the weeds.

When you have pruned your coffee trees well, when you have hoed up the weeds, then apply fertilizer.

Coffee trees need a lot of potash, a lot of nitrogen, and a little phosphoric acid.
Spread the fertilizer in a ring around each coffee tree, but be very careful not to put any on its trunk, branches or leaves.
If you do, the fertilizer will burn the coffee tree.
Spread the fertilizer at a distance of about 1 metre from the trunk.
Apply fertilizer several times a year (except for dicalcium phosphate, only once a year).

Spread the fertilizer at a distance of about 1 metre

37. Different soils have different fertilizer needs. For example, in the Ivory Coast:

· On the more sandy soils, along the coast, apply to each coffee tree:

in March:

50 g ammonium sulfate

50 g dicalcium phosphate

40 g potassium sulfate

in July:

30 g ammonium sulfate

40 g potassium sulfate

in October:

30 g ammonium sulfate

40 g potassium sulfate

· On the more granitic soils of the interior, apply to each coffee tree:

in March:

30 g ammonium sulfate

50 g dicalcium phosphate

30 g potassium sulfate

in July:

20 g ammonium sulfate

40 g potassium sulfate

in October:

20 g ammonium sulfate

30 g potassium sulfate

Protecting trees from insects and diseases

The most dangerous enemies of the coffee tree are:

38. Coffee stem borers

The larvae of these insects bore holes in the stems and so ruin the coffee trees. So you must:

Pull up and burn affected trees. Try to catch these insects and kill them.

You can control borers with Dieldrin.

Larva of coffee

39. Coffee berry borer

These insects lay their eggs in the coffee beans. The berries turn black. Remove the black berries and burn them. Pick up all the berries that have dropped to the ground and burn them.

You can control the coffee berry borer with endrin.

Hole made in a berry by a coffee berry borer

40. Tracheomycosis

This is the most dangerous disease of the coffee tree.
It has caused great damage to the coffee plantations of the Ivory Coast.
It comes from a fungus which attacks the stems and branches.
The trees dry out and die.
To control this disease, pull up the diseased trees and burn them.

There are many other diseases, for instance:

Coffee leaf disease The leaves, branches and fruit become dry. Cut off the diseased parts and burn them.

Berry rot The berries become brown, then dry. Pick them and burn them.

There are also many other Insects:
Green scale on the branches
Leaf caterpillars

Always burn diseased trees, diseased blanches, diseased berries.

Look for Insects and kill them.