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COFFEE PHYSIOLOGY

In a perennial plant such as coffee, consistent crop yield depends on the balance between vegetative and reproductive growth. Various external and internal factors influence the growth and performance of the coffee plant. External factors may be climate and edaphic such as light, temperature, rainfall, humidity, soil fertility, soil moisture and soil temperature whereas internal factors may be genetic. The coffee plants take nearly three years to develop from seed to first flowering to and fruit production. Arabica coffee plants can be economically productive for over 30 years while Robusta can be productive up to 60 years. However, they can be trained and maintained further with proper cultural operations and improved cultivation methods. Vegetative Growth The pattern of shoot growth in coffee under south-west monsoon conditions is typically sigmoid with a slow growth from March/April to July and a period of rapid growth slows down with the onset of the dry periods from November and it will be minimal during December-February (winter period) and once again growth resumes in March after the receipt of summer showers. Coffee leaves grow on a petiole in opposite pairs on the sides of the main stem and braches. The leaf shape is elliptical and veins are conspicuous. Arabica leaves are slender, succulent and delicate, whereas Robusta leaves are broad and thin. Leaf growth of coffee shows a periodicity with the maximum temperature range of 23 to 27C, a minimum temperature of 11 to 12C, high soil moisture and humidity, and optimal hours of sunshine however, a high temperature(above 27C) inhibits leaf expansion and causes formation of smaller leaves. Defoliation is generally observed observed during summer months, under water logging conditions, and also during fruit ripening stage. Flowering Under South Indian conditions, flower bud initiation takes place from September onwards. The factors which influence the floral initiation are short day (less hours of day light), carbon/nitrogen (C/N) ratio, intermediate temperature and endogenous hormonal balance. High concentration of gibberllic acid during July/August tends to produce more vegetative growth and less induction of flower buds. Such a problem is observed in certain plant materials at high altitudes as well as in the areas which receive continuous precipitation. To improve the flower bud induction and the cropping nodes under excessive vegetative growth condition foliar application of mepiquat chloride at 1000 ppm concentration (4 l of chamatkar in 200 l of water) or 0.75% single super phosphate (SSP) at

IRRIGATION MANAGEMENT

Coffee is primarily cultivated as a rained crop worldwide. In equatorial regions such as South and Central America, where there are no well defined alternations between wet and dry periods, coffee is generally not irrigated. But in the regions of single rainfall region such as East and Central Africa and India, coffee is irrigated during the 4 to 6 month dry spell. This substantially boosts growth and productivity. Coffee, being an evergreen plant, requires maintenance of soil moisture during dry months. In the coffee tracts of South India, the South-West monsoon provides more than 60% of the rain during June to September and the rest is during the North-East monsoon period in October to December. The dry period usually consists of 4 months from December on wards. In some years the North-East monsoon tapers off by the end of October itself leading to an extension of the dry period. The most important factor which limits the production of coffee even in well managed estates is the long dry period. Besides this, if blossom rains are delayed beyond March then the production of coffee receives a major set back. In coffee, irrigation is mainly used as an insurance against failure of good blossom and backing showers and for overcoming long dry period. Sprinkler Irrigation Sprinkler irrigation is the most versatile method of irrigation to supplement the natural rainfall for the growth and flowering of coffee. In sprinkler irrigation the water is sprayed under pressure through small orifices or nozzles all over the plant and land surface. System are designed, type of soil, location of water source, topography of land, wind velocity and infiltration rate. For successful establishment of young plantations, coffee should be irrigated during the dry months to a depth well below the root zone and the intervals between irrigation should be long enough to allow the soil to dry out without causing serious wilting. This encourages deep rooting as a protection against drought, responds well to irrigation must commence 20 to 25 days after the cessation of monsoon. Irrigation up to 25 mm once in 20 to 25 days till the end of December is a must. Later blossom irrigation at 25 to 40 mm is to be given during the second fortnight of February followed by backing irrigation of 25 mm water within a gap of 15 to 20 days after blossom.

Preparing Coffee for Overhead

WEED CONTROL

Weeds compete with coffee plants for water, light and mineral nutrients. If weeds are allowed to grow during late post-monsoon period, they use the soil moisture which coffee needs in the following dry weather. Free growth of weeds reduces the yield of coffee and plants assume a sickly appearance. In young clearings, weeds are a serious problem particularly during the first three years. The pruned fields where the ground is exposed are also prone to weeds.

Methods of weed control

    Manual Weeding

    Typically new clearings are hand-weeded 3 to 4 times and established coffee fields 2 to 3 times a year. During the monsoon season, weeds are slashed back (slash weeding) with the help of a matchete. Clean weeding is generally done during post-monsoon period. It is a labor intensive and time consuming operation in coffee estates.

    Cultural Methods

    In new clearings, the field is given a thorough digging (cover digging) to a depth of about 37 to 45 cm towards the end of monsoon. All weeds and vegetative debris are completely turned over and buried in the soil.

In young clearings, coffee at normal spacing covers only a small portion of the soil surface and there is room for prolific weed growth. Inter-planning of green manure crops, cover crops and annual crops such as grain legumes, cassava, beans, pigeon pea, yam, sweet potatoes, vegetables, pineapples help suppress weeds to large extent. Intercropping has been successful in Robusta coffee plantations in Wayanad region of Kerala. In established plantations, scuffling and mulching at the end of monsoon can be effective in controlling weeds.

Chemical Weed Control

Chemical weed control methods (weedicides) are employed where labour is scarce or expensive or when labour has to be diverted to other important cultural operations like manuring and spraying. Weedicides can be classified based on time of application (pre-emergent and post-emergent), mode of action (contact and systemic) etc.

Pre-emergent weedicides are applied before the emergence of weeds to moist soil. These are taken up through the germinating roots of weed seeds and remain in surface layers of the soil long enough to kill the weed seeds. These weedicides have a long residual effect and growth of coffee and cause phytotoxicity. Pre-emergent weedicides (simazine, Atrazine) are not usually advocated in coffee plantations. Post-emergent weedicides

COMPOSTING OF ON-FARM WASTES

Composting is a biological process that converts organic matter into stable humus like product under controlled conditions. Compost is the dark brown crumbly material that is produced when a collection of plant and animal material is decomposed into fine organic matter and humus. Method of Composting Different methods of  composting like aerobic, anaerobic and vermicomposting are followed for preparation areas, aerobic method of composting is found to be most appropriate and efficient method of composting farm wastes. Material Required for Composting

  • Farm wastes: Any farm wastes like cherry husk, coffee pulp and other crop residues like straw etc. would form the basic raw etc. would form the basic raw material for compost preparation.
  • Animal wastes: cattle shed wastes containing ding and urine, goat droppings, piggery and poultry wastes.
  • Green material: Any green plant material (preferably of legumes) like leaves, shade tree lopping, weed biomass etc.
  • Compost enrichers: Rock phosphate, bio-fertilizers (Azotobacter, Azospirillum, ‘P’ solubilisers, Trichoderma, VAM) could be used for enriching the compost.
  • Decomposition enhancing cultures: Phanerocheate chrysosporium, Trichoderma viride, Aspergillus awamori, Pleurotus sajarcaju, Bacillus, Pesudomonas cultures and yeast cultures.
  • Nutrient additives/enhancer: Neem cake, pongamia cake, cow dung slurry, butter milk.

Materials to be Avoided

  • Residue from crops sprayed with pesticides or herbicides.
  • Materials diseased with rusts and viruses.
  • Hard prickles or thorns.
  • Persistent perennial weeds. To avoid any chance of these weed spreading, they should be killed by burning or spread in the sun till they dry out completely
  • Paratoxic materials like metals, rubber, glass and plastics.
  • Large quantities of newspaper and cardboard will greatly slow the rotting process.

Selection of site Composting should be done under shelter of trees to prevent drying of heaps and to preserve moisture. Size of compost heap The compost heaps should essentially have 1.5 to 2 m width and about 1 m height. They can be of any convenient length depending upon the availability of raw materials. Preparation of the materials Although many materials can be used directly, some may need pre-treatment before composting, as given below.

  • Material containing high moisture content (e.g. coffee pulp) should be allowed to wither a little.
  • Rough and coarse materials such as stalks of paddy should be broken or chopped before use. The best way to break these materials is to spread them over cattle shed. It will also help in collecting the urine and dung properly.
  • Dry woody material like cherry/parchment

NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT OF COFFEE

Coffee being a perennial crop, the plant has the dual function of maturing the crop and producing fresh cropping wood frame work for the succeeding year simultaneously. In coffee cultivation, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are considered as major nutrients; calcium, magnesium and sulphur as secondary nutrients, while iron, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum, boron, sodium and chlorine as micro-nutrients. All the essential nutrient elements supplied in adequate quantities to sustain the growth and yield of the plant is called balanced fertilization. Restrictions on coffee production due to soil nutrient deficiencies are removed by applying appropriate fertilizer in right time and adequate quantities. The most economic quantities of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium required to be supplied to a given block depends on the estimated yield, performance of plants for the last three to five season and the soil test data. Dose of nutrients applied without considering the soil test values will be inaccurate, uneconomic and incomplete. Nutrient Requirement for Coffee It has been estimated that a tome of clean coffee removes approximately, 40 kg N, 7 kg P2 O5 and 45 kg K2O in the case of Robusta respectively from the soil. The nutrient requirement of biomass to produce one tonne of clean coffee (approximately 6000 kg fruits of Arabica of 5000 fruits of Robusta) is roughly 13 kg N, 2.3 kg P2O5 and 15 kg K2O respectively. Taking into consideration the crop removal of nutrients, nutrient loss through leaching, fixation and fertilizer use efficiency (FUE), dosage of nutrients required to realize targeted yield are furnished in the table. For mature Arabica as well as Robusta coffee, where coffee yields are not exceeding 1 t per unit area(one ac or ha), a mandatory/sustenance dose of 20:20:20 kg of N:P2O5:K2O per year has to be given while, for the area where the production levels are exceeding 1 t up to 1.5 t mandatory/sustenance dose has to be revised to 30:30:30 kg. The mandatory/sustenance dose of fertilizers takes care of biomass (bush frame work) nutrient requirement coffee plants. In addition to the mandatory/substance dose, for every 100 kg of clean coffee production, application of 10:7:10kg of N:P2O5:K2O is essential. These general recommendations are subject to modification for individual estates based on soil analysis report. Annual fertilizer doses suggested for young coffee based on age and different appendix 8. These annual doses are in a year and for nutrient sources other than those mentioned, the