Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Coffee Pruning, Part 2

I'm not certain if this is just a feature of the tropics or is due to some other factor, but what I've noticed with our citrus trees, particularly with our lime, is that there is no distinct period of bloom with an equally distinct fruiting period, leading to harvest. At least with our lime, flowering and fruiting, while not quite continuous, are over a very broad period of time, which means we get an almost year-round production of limes.

The same seems to be true, in a more limited sense, with coffee plants. The previous post had pictures of what seemed to me, at first glance, like plants in full bloom. Not so. The plants are already fruiting. And have been for some period of time. Fruit of different size exist on the same branch, and will mature at different times.

The coffee bean develops inside the fruit. At maturity, the fruit turns an almost cherry red, and harvesting begins.

Harvesting is done by hand. Because of the difference in maturity dates, thanks to the long period of fruiting, there are basically two harvesting strategies--strip the plants of all the fruits, regardless of maturity or harvest over the two to three month period of time required for all the fruit to mature. Ruiz, like the other better producers, chooses the latter strategy.

I have to say that I'm pleased with this close up image (and I rarely if ever am satisfied with my camera work) if only because I caught (by sheer accident) a single flower among the fruit cluster. Every flower produces a fruit. The plants won't hold all the fruit, which is one reason for pruning--to strengthen the plant in order to reduce fruit drop.

I love the delicacy of the coffee flower.

I asked when the fruit would be ready to harvest, and was told that the largest would be ready in September, the smallest in December. At that point, processing of the beans takes place.

But for now, since pruning is just about over, the next step is clearing away the grasses and other underbrush in preparation for fertilizing the plants.

Which I hope to record soon.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Very interesting information in these two posts about the coffee plant and its care. I'm looking forward to more!