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Fall/Winter 2001-2002

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Back to the Basics of Coffee Growing
by George Yasuda     

George Yasuda

The coffee plants’ nutritional needs fall within the planting and cultivation category and is one of the most important factors in improving the quality of coffee.

It is very important to use high quality fertilizers in the right proportions and the correct ingredients. Keep in mind when choosing your fertilizer that coffee trees seem to be chlorine sensitive and also susceptible to boron toxicity more than any other plant species. The fertilizer analysis is very crucial. The macronutrients are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, sulfur and magnesium. Other nutrients needed are iron, zinc, molybdenum & copper to name a few.

Soil sampling, tissue sampling and visual inspections are key to maintaining the proper nutrition. Applying the wrong fertilizer is a waste of time, labor and money and could also cause damage to the crop needless to say the ecosystem. Also remember that fillers are useless weight and the wrong composition may be detrimental.


Good Nutrition - 2 years Growth

Follow these general rules of thumb: Nitrogen is for vegetative growth, phosphorus is for root development and potassium is for fruit development and overall quality. Calcium is needed for proper structure and growth and magnesium for chlorophyll. All these nutrients work together and excess, deficiency or absence of any of the critical nutrients can result in negative results. This is known as ‘the law of limiting factors’ simply meaning that when all the necessary factors are present and in correct balance except for one the growth of the plant is critically limited because of that one missing factor.


Poor Nutrition

It is important to remember that guessing or poor information can prove costly as well. Seeking experienced, professional advice is worth the time and energy. In order for Kona coffee to remain viable and famous the plant and product quality needs to be maintained at a consistent high. Here are some general steps to follow when growing coffee:
  1. Land preparation
  2. Seedling nursery
  3. Planting and cultivation
  4. Harvesting
  5. Processing
  6. Marketing
  7. Research

There are productive ways of performing the above steps and there are counterproductive ways. Learning the right way can prove very beneficial.


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Story appeared originally in Coffee Times print magazine and appears online for archival purposes only. Any use or reprinting of these stories without the expressed written consent of the author is prohibited.

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