Growing coffee isn’t simple; it requires a lot of precise techniques. In order to have healthy coffee plants that produce high quality beans and high productivity, we need to follow these steps:
Choose a flat land. Clean dead plants and debris from garden beds and the landscape. Build a drainage system according to following blueprints:
Select breeds: 4/55, 1/20, TR4, TR5, TR6, TR7, TR8, TR9. TR11, TR12, TR13 are all easy-growing breeds that are ramiferous. They can produce 4.5 to 7 tons of coffee per hectare.
Season: Plant in the beginning of rainy season (May, June)
Distance and density: If the land is in good condition where intensive farming is possible, plant less dense, vice versa. Flat land in good condition: 3 x 3m (1.118 tree per hectare); acceptable land which is sloping: 3 x 2.5m (1.330 tree per hectare).
Planting: coffee trees are not too selective on soil. They can grow on different kind of soils such as red soil, brown soil or grey soil etc. though red soil tends to have an extremely advantageous affect upon the vitality and prosperity of the tree. The basic requirement is the topsoil thicker than 70 centimeters with components from average to lightly heavy (clay or alluvial).
Dig holes one month before planting. Each hole has a dimension of 60 x 60 x 60 cm. Put aside the topsoil then mix with 10 – 20 kg of manure + 0.5 kg of phosphate + 0.5 kg of lime then fill the holes.
Put aside subsoil to build tree beds later on. While planting, scatter 100 grams of NPK 16 – 16 – 8 – 13 S.
TENDING COFFEE TREES
To tend coffee trees, we need to:
Plant windbreak trees.
During maturing and harvesting periods, coffee trees need to be wind blocked carefully. Cassia Splendida Vogels (or Sunshine Trees) are very good to use as windbreaks. Plant these trees between rows of coffee plants; one row of Sunshine trees every 2 to 3 rows of coffee plants.
Plant shade trees.
We can plant shade trees at crossroads between beds of coffee trees at the distance of 9 x 9m or 9 x 12m. Plant at the same time as coffee plants. These plants can be avocado, durian, or pepper trees. They can provide shades and also have commercial values.
Shade trees need to be trimmed properly, not too bushy so that coffee trees under them can have enough sunlight. Their canopy needs to be higher than the top of coffee plants 2 to 4 meters.
Coffee trees have taproot systems with sub-roots sprout laterally to absorb nutrients, thus we need to weed regularly (4-5 times a year) both within and on coffee beds. We can also plow coffee beds while weeding. Before fertilizing, we have to weed as well.
Building coffee beds
Building beds helps irrigate and fertilize more easily and effectively. The ledge of the beds need to be higher than the inside at least 15 – 20 centimeters. Beds need to be plowed once a year in rainy season. Expanding beds according to canopy, only stop when the beds of two opposite rows meet each other.
Constantly trim buds that grow from the trunk or at the axils, especially in rainy season before fertilizing. We can trim buds 5-6 times a year. After harvesting, use a scissors to cut small branches or dead branches and diseased branches. In each pruning area, only leave 3 branches. Trim branches up high to allow sunlight to get through. Restrain tree tops at 1.6 – 1.7 meters.
With coffee plants that need to be sawed in order to grow back: Saw in February (lunar calendar) at 20 – 25 centimeters above the ground. Saw at 45-degree angle. Grow 4-5 strongest buds. When the beds are 25 centimeters high, leave only 2 buds and saw the rest to shape the trunk and tend for the tree as if it was a newly grown one.
During March – April (for spring-summer season) and October – November (autumn – winter season), badly diseased trees need to be cut down to kill of pests. Plant shade trees to limit the damage of pests.
Use Boremun 4% to spray all over the tree twice a year to kill eggs, baby pests and grown pests. Cut down high branches, branches that grow within the canopy, small branches, and unneeded branches for berries to grow. Trim dead branches, old branches, and diseased branches for a more ventilated garden to help the trees grow better, increase its resistance to pests, prevent other diseases that cause berries to fall. Often clean up diseased leaves and branches.
Watering for coffee plants need a lot of investment with high costs, thus it should only be done in dry lands where dry season last 4-6 months a year.
Use plastic pipe to pour water onto the root during dry season. Most coffee plants in the world aren’t watered during dry season.
Robusta, which has lower survival change in the drought, are watered more than Arabica.
Because in Central Highlands, the dry season lasts from November to April, thus watering is a critical factor to coffee production. The high quality Robusta coffee of this land of red soil has claim its top position in Vietnamese coffee market.
“We ought to make the best coffee we can make, even if that means we will have to dig through the Earth.” (Chairman Vu – Founder of Trung Nguyen Legend)