Enjoying a cup of strong, fragrant drink in the morning, few people think about the path that coffee beans take from plantation to store shelves. Growing coffee is a very interesting and labor-intensive process, which is possible under certain climatic conditions.
From seed to seedling
In the wild, the tree may grow to a height of 10 m, but on specialized farms the branches are limited to 5 m in length, increasing the yield and making it easier to collect the ripe berries. Some of them are selected for plantation – the pulp is removed from such fruits. It is important not to damage the thin parchment shell around the core in the process.
Before planting the bean in the ground, it is germinated beforehand. The coffee beans are dried, reducing the moisture level to 20%, and only then are they buried in a thin layer of soil. The first sprouts appear after 1.5 months, and are transplanted into cloth bags with humus. Coffee peel or manure is added to the basic soil, after which the sprouts are submerged a few centimeters into the soil.
This is a temporary shelter for future trees, in which everything is calculated in detail. Sacks are planted in a row, along the plantation a fence is put – a support for a canopy from the sun and rain. Coffee sprouts will have to spend about 10 months in greenhouse conditions.
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As soon as the plant reaches a height of 0.5-0.6 m, it is transplanted to a permanent habitat. It is necessary to exercise maximum care not to damage the fragile root system. To do this, the sack is carefully ripped open, the plant together with the soil is moved into a previously excavated hole and slightly covered with soil.
The first modest harvest appears on the branches in 2 years after transplanting to the “adult plantation”. From this moment the life cycle of the coffee tree is counted. In 3 years the number of berries on the branches increases, the next 2 years the “productivity” decreases.
Every 5 years, the tree is pruned, leaving no more than 0.5 m in height – a year later, a new trunk grows, and the cycle repeats again. The procedure should not be done more than 6 times – the old plant will not bear fruit, so subsequent pruning is meaningless.
The life cycle depends on the region in which the coffee grows, but rarely exceeds 25-30 years. When the tree stops bearing fruit, it is replaced with a new one. To ensure high yields, hundreds of varieties are grown on the same plantation, planting areas are changed, and the cycle of each plant is taken into account. To protect the coffee plantation from rain and direct sunlight, tall trees are planted next to it.
Flowering and ripening
The coffee tree blooms for a very short period of time – as soon as the rainy season begins. The flowers fade after pollination, so they live up to 2 days, but fill the plantation with a sweet jasmine aroma. The pleasant smell attracts bees – pollination occurs naturally.
The uniqueness of the process lies in the structure of the flowers. There are two types of coffee: Congolese (Robusta) and Arabica (Arabica). The latter has an axillary flower with a stamen and a pistil – the plant can be pollinated by bees, but self-pollination is also possible. Robusta requires two trees for pollination, since they are self-pollinated, although they are pansexual. In this case, the pollen transfer takes place with the wind and without the involvement of bees.
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Coffee flowers are good for making tea, but if you pick them, there will be no harvest. 7-10 days after pollination, the first berries appear on the branches, ripening takes up to 9-10 months. The ripe fruit of the coffee tree is red, but often in shades ranging from rich yellow to dark orange. Inside the soft shell are two green kernels with a delicate herbaceous flavor. After roasting, they change color, gaining a unique flavor.
Berries ripen unevenly, so harvesting is a very time-consuming and meticulous process. Despite the impressive size of the tree, about 3 kg of fruit can be harvested per year. Such a rich harvest will yield 350-500 grams of roasted grains.
The place where it grows
On the packaging of coffee most often there is information: produced in France, Portugal, Italy and Germany. Such a geographical indication indicates the location of the company, and not the place of harvesting. There are a few billion coffee trees in the world, planted in tropical Asia and Africa, but also in Central and South America and Oceania. Because the plots stretch along the equator, the specific strip is commonly referred to as the “coffee belt.
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Coffee grows well in warm and humid atmospheres where there are no night frosts or drastic temperature changes. The smooth and mild equatorial climate fully complies with the stated parameters. Having originated in Ethiopia, coffee has spread throughout regions similar to its historical homeland.
Coffee tree at home – dream or reality
Since the fragrant berries conquered the hearts of gourmets around the world, the widespread cultivation of the exotic plant began. At home, with proper care, the coffee tree looks very attractive and can reach up to 2 meters in height. In a pot it quickly adapts to the room, but begins to bloom after 3-4 years.
Optimal conditions must be maintained for the plant:
- The room must be spacious, sunny, with an influx of fresh air. Windows on the east or west side will do. Exotic plant does not get along with others, so you will have to allocate a separate apartment.
- Light – only diffused. Under direct sunlight, the leaves wrinkle and turn yellow, and the lack of light impairs growth. The room should preferably be chosen once – you can not transfer the plant.
Cultivate coffee with cuttings or fresh seeds, they can be purchased in the store. Under home conditions, Arabian and Liberian varieties take root, as well as the dwarf coffee plant Nana. A coffee bush will decorate the interior, and during the flowering period will fill the room with a pleasant aroma. You can get up to 500 grams of beans from one plant, which experienced gardeners can already boast about.