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Indian Estates
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Indian Estates
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India – 571201.

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Propagation Through Seed Use of quality seed plays an important role in establishing a productive plantation. Hence, it is always advisable to procure authentic seed material from coffee Board Research department. Preparation of quality seed requires careful monitoring at all levels such as establishment of genetically pure seed blocks, removal of off-types, forcing the blocks, removal of off-types, forcing the blossom in advance to ensure isolation and following strict seed preparation protocol that include harvesting of the ripe fruits at right stage to shade drying to the required moisture levels. Seed Plots and Seed Preparation Protocol The seed plots established at CCRI, regional coffee research stations and also some of the technology evaluation centers of the board by using the nucleus seed material of a particular variety become the source for collection of seed. All the seed plots are regularly maintained by removing the off-types, if any. For ensuring controlled pollination, the seed plots are irrigated before the receipt of blossom showers. At the time of harvest, mature berries at correct stage of ripening and not over ripened once, are collected and are carefully pulped on the same day of harvest by using hand pulpier without damaging beans. These freshly pulped beans are stirred in a container of clean water to remove floats or lights. The beans are then mixed with finely sieved wood-ash, evenly spread out to a thickness of about 5 cm and dried in shade. They are stirred thrice a day to facilitate uniform drying and for removal of excess ash while drying. After the drying, the seed is garbled thoroughly to remove the excess ash and also the mutilated, triangular and elephant beans. The seed coffee is supplied to the indented growers through extension network of the board. Before packing, the seed is treated with fungicide (Bavistin 50 WP) 1g kg-1 to protect from any fungal infection occurring during transit or germination. In berry borer infested areas, the seed should be subjected to fumigation with aluminum phosphide (celphos) to kill live stages of berry borer. Seeds do not exhibit any dormancy and under natural conditions viability is also short. Vegetative Propagation Techniques Vegetative reproduction, which is a form of asexual reproduction using the vegetative parts such as shoots, leaves, ensures that the plant’s unique features are retained. Coffee can be propagated successfully by using conventional vegetative propagation techniques. Propagation by Cutting In coffee, two types of


Germplasm The success of any breeding programme depends on the proper evaluation and exploitation of the available gene pool. Hence, a massive gene bank was established at CCRI with collections from both indigenous and exotic sources. The indigenous collections were made between 1925 and 1940 by surveying the existing plantations for vigorous, disease-resistant Arabica and Robusta plants and over 250 collections were established at CCRI. These collections formed the base for developing early Indian selections. After 1940, exotic collections from all coffee-growing countries, including Ethiopia, the home land of Arabica coffee, were introduced into the gene bank. Presently, there are about 300 surviving collections of Arabica, 73 types of Robusta and 17 different species of coffea. All these collections have been thoroughly assessed and some of the collections, with useful agronomic traits were exploited in breeding programmes. The main objectives of varietal improvement in Arabica coffee are to evolve superior genotypes through breeding for: • Rust tolerance • High productivity • Wide adaptability • Improved quality Recently, focus has also been on breeding for pest and drought tolerance and low caffeine. Variability in Arabica Arabica is a polymorphic species (having many forms). Variability in Arabica and its hybrids relate to various agronomic traits like plant size (dwarf, semi-dwarf, tall); branching habit (erect, spreading, drooping); fruit size (small, medium, bold);fruit ripening ( early, late); quality traits and yield potential. Besides, a wide spectrum of resistance from complete susceptibility to total resistance to leaf rust pathogen is also seen. By utilizing this variability, CCRI has successfully released 13 elite selection by employing the standard breeding strategies like inter-varietal hybridization followed by pedigree selection (Sln.2.Sln.3), pure line selection (Sln.1, Sln.4, Sln.8), interspecific hybridization followed by backcross breeding (Sln.6),double crosses( Sln.10),multiple crosses (Sln.7.3) and introgressive breeding (Sln.5A, Sln.5B,Sln. 9, Sln.12 and Sln.13) using spontaneous tetraploid interspecific hybrids like Devamachy and Hybrido De Timor (HDT).   Arabica varieties from CCRI Arabica coffee (COFFEA ARABICA L) is a small tree in its original habitat, but grows like a shrub with bushy growth when trained. Arabica produces superior quality coffee but is susceptible to diseases like leaf rust and pests like white stem borer. This necessitated the systematic breeding efforts for genotypes with respect to leaf rust resistance, high yielding potential, wide adaptability and superior quality. So far CCRI has developed 13 Arabica selections for commercial cultivation of which, seven selections are popular among the growers and


Seeds are elliptical or egg shaped, plano convex processing longitudinal furrow on the plane surface. Seed coat is represented by the ‘silver skin’ which is also made up of scleroides. The size, thickness and number of pits in the wall of scleroides are considered as important taxonomic characters in evaluating differences between species. Bulk of the seeds is formed by endosperm which is hard, consisting of polyhedral (many sided) cells. Seeds do not exhibit any dormancy. Viability is also short in coffee. Germination takes place in about 45 days.

Bean defects

Pea berry’ formation in a normal coffee plant is due to abortion of one of the two ovules in a flower at the time of fertilization. The fertilized ovule in the other locule grows into a round seed called ‘pea berry’. At times, three locules having single ovule in each locule are formed in the ovary which gives rise to triangular seeds. Endosperm sometimes shows partial development with or without any embryo. These occur commonly in floats (jollu).  Formation of more than one ovule per locule is seen occasionally in Arabica, but quite frequently in S.288 and S.795. Seeds resulting from these ovules are called ‘elephant beans’. There are two types of elephant beans:

  • Beans inside the parchment cover inter locked(hollow and bit)
  • Seeds occurring side by side (bits). When one of the ovule gets aborted, the other functional ovule usually assumes irregular shapes (defective).

Black or spotted bean is a physiological abnormality where the endosperm is completely or partially blackened.  

Arabica (coffea Arabica L)

Popularly known as ‘Arabica coffee’, it is a tetraploid species i.e., 4n=44 chromosomes. Under natural conditions Arabica grows like a small tree, but under regulated conditions looks like a bush. The plants produce profuse branches and the matured leaves are dark green in colour while the young leafs (leaf tips) are either green or bronze. The flower buds are produced in clusters in the axils of leaves at each node. Under South Indian conditions, initiation and subsequent growth of flower buds takes place from September to March. Water is essential for flowering and so the blossoms occur 8 to 10 days after showers. Arabica is self-fertile. The fertilized ovary grows into a fruit (drupe) in about 8 to 9 months and finally ripens into dark a red berry which ranges in


Pollination takes place within 6h of the flower opening, under bright light and warm windy conditions. Rain, during morning hours, before or after flower opening, affects pollination and thereby lowers fruit set. Wind, gravity and bees are the agents of pollination. Arabica coffee is autogamous (self-fertilization) with different degrees of natural cross-pollination in contrast to Robusta coffee which is strictly allogamous (cross fertilization). Self-fertilization in Robusta coffee is avoided by gemetophytic self-incompatibility which is genetically controlled. Robusta has the adaptive advantage in having longer styles compared to Arabica. This may also facilitate cross pollination. Sometimes in Arabica, self-pollination occurs before the opening of the flower bud itself. But in interspecific hybrids between Robusta and Arabica, the tendency for cross pollination is high.

Fertilization, fruit and seed formation

Fertilization takes place when a pollen grain germinates to produce a pollen tube on the stigamatic surface. The pollen tube reaches the embryosac by growing through micropyle and subsequently bursts open realeasing the two male nuclei, of which one units with the egg to form zygote and the other fuses with the secondary nucleus to form the primary endosperm nucleus (double fertilization). The process of fertilization is completed within 24 to 48h after pollination. The zygote and endosperm nucleus formed as a result of fertilization, undergo a resting period of nearly 45 days in Arabica and 60 days in Robusta. Meanwhile, the integument (protective coat) of the ovule begins to increase in size to perform nutritive function for zygote. The endocarp or the parchment cover is laid down after blossom. This determines the size of the integument (perisperm) grows to its maximum size in 100 to 120 days after blossom. This determines the size of the future bean. Finally, the endosperm grows into space that has been previously occupied by the integument and restricts it to a thin layer surrounding the endosperm. This forms the ‘silver skin’ or the seed coat of bean. Commensurating with the growth of endosperm, the zygote grows into an embryo with a hypocotyl and two (sometimes 3 to 4) cotyledons. Embryo is situated at one end of the bean on its convex surface. The normal duration of a flower to fruit development is about 8 to 9 months in Arabica and 10 to 11 months in Robusta. Ripe fruits have a thick fleshy pericarp with a mucilageneous layer

Leaves and Flowers of Coffee Plants


Coffee leaves grow in opposite decussate manner on the main stem and orthotropic shoots (growing along the vertical axis). But, in plagiotropic branches (the longer axis inclined away from the vertical axis), the leaf orientation is opposite due to torsion. The leaves are shiny, wavy and dark green in colour with conspicuous veins. The shape of the leaf is usually elliptical. The leaves of Arabica are slender and more delicate than those of Robusta or Liberica. The leaf tip varies from pointed (acuminate) to obtuse. As mentioned earlier, the young leaves of Arabica are either light green or bronze while in Robusta and Liberica, the young leaf colour is generally dark bronze. A silent feature of coffee leaves, as in the case of some other members of Rubiaceae, is the occurrence of ‘domatia’ which are small opening on the lower surface of leaves in the angles of the veins intersecting the mid-rib. They do not appear to have any specific function. In coffee, stomata (minute opening on the leaf for gas exchange) are present only on the lower surface of the leaves and the number of stomata vary from species to species (10000 to 17500cm2). The stomatal level number is negatively correlated to ploidy level with Arabica showing less number of stomata compared to Robusta.


Coffee is a short day plant i.e., floral initiation takes place during short place during short day conditions of 8 to 11 if day light which is prevalent between September to December in South India. Flower buds are produced at the axis of mature green wood on short stalks which are known as peduncles. The group of flowers, technically called ‘inflorescence’ is a condensed cymose (a type of inflorescence where the terminal bud is formed and further flower formation is through lateral buds, as opposed to racemose inflorescence) subtended by bracts (modified vegetative structure at the base of inflorescence which is protective in function). In Robusta, bracts are leafy and expanded whereas they are small and scaly in Arabica,4 to 5 inflorescence of 1 to 4 flowers each other produced per axil while in Robusta more number of flowers per inflorescence(5 to 6) is commonly produced. In Arabica, the axillary buds are indeterminate i.e., they may produce either vegetative shoots or flower buds depending upon the