Coffee has become a widely used drink around the world. Its industry is worth billions because coffee is a coveted commodity that many people enjoy in different ways.
Farmers and entrepreneurs everywhere are realizing how profitable coffee production is, which is why they started growing coffees like Arabica, Liberica, Robusta and Excelsa.
It usually takes three to four years for newly planted coffee trees to bear fruit, but after that their annual harvest time can be up to two to three months, with the trees producing around 2,000 coffee cherries or 4,000 coffee beans.
Photo by Tixu from Pixabay
But while the coffee trees are still growing, farmers need to properly care for their trees to ensure that they grow healthily. And one way to do this is by adding fertilizer to the soil.
Part 1 dealt with the propagation methods of coffee plants. However, this article focuses on how coffee trees can be preserved while they are growing through proper fertilization and pest and disease control.
How to fertilize growing coffee trees
Organic or inorganic, coffee plants get better when they are fertilized. But there is one standard that farmers should follow when fertilizing their crops, since fertilizing needs are different for trees with fruit than for trees without fruit.
For non-bearing coffee trees that are in their first to second year, they need to be fertilized with diammonium phosphate, which has a ratio of 18-46-0. This ensures complete phosphorus nutrition throughout the growth and development of the plants.
Four fertilizers should be applied at different times throughout the year. The first application should be only 15 grams per tree, the second requires 30 grams, the third 50 grams and the last application should be made with 60 grams of fertilizer per tree.
As for the organic fertilizer, each coffee tree must be given a kilogram twice a year for proper growth and development.
But more fertilizer is needed for trees with fruits. When using an input with a ratio of 18-46-0 for three applications spread over the year. The first and second applications require 29 grams per tree, while the third requires 34 grams.
The best time to fertilize is at the beginning and at the end of the rainy season. The fertilizer should be applied to the edge of the tree canopy either through holes or by the tape method, where farmers dig a five centimeter deep hole around the ground.
Common coffee pests and how to fight them
There are four common pests that coffee trees frequently visit. These are coffee berry burrs, stem burrs, scale insects, and ants.
Coffee berry augers are insects that drill holes in young berries to lay eggs. The eggs develop into larvae that destroy the berries. To prevent these coffee trees from attacking, farmers need to ensure a clean harvest and crop, apply insecticides, and dry infected beans quickly.
Another coffee pest is the stem borer. These are longhorn beetles that burrow into the bark of coffee trees and damage the main stem and roots. Fortunately, these can easily be combated with insecticides, the removal and burning of infected trees, and hygiene measures.
Scale insects, parasitic insects that suckle sap by piercing trees, often coffee trees too. However, these can easily be removed by scrubbing the affected areas with detergent.
Finally, ants are also viewed as a coffee tree pest. Although they have no direct influence on the tree, they make it uncomfortable for coffee pickers and other workers to be near affected trees. Control ants by using malathion.
Coffee tree diseases and how to prevent them
Pests aren’t the only harmful things coffee farmers should be concerned about. Diseases such as anthracnose and rust should also be considered as they could hinder the proper growth of coffee trees.
Anthracnose refers to the broken spots on leaves and dark brown sunken spots on green berries. It attacks weak trees that are poorly managed. To control this, farmers need to prune and burn the parts with infected berries, spray copper fungicides, and apply fertilizer.
But the most widespread and destructive disease in coffee is rust. By 1891, it had almost wiped out the booming coffee industry. To control this, farmers need to thoroughly screen and quarantine imported varieties, select appropriate resistant varieties or strains, and practice good cultivation and fertilization. But when these don’t seem to work, they can resort to chemical applications.
Growing quality coffee is important for farmers as consumers look for a standard in their energizing beverage. It may take more work than usual, but the return on investment is well worth it.
Watch the full AgriTalk webinar here.
Read more about agriculture and horticulture at Agriculture.com.ph.
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