Yes, it’s still summer and we haven’t even seen the Christmas decorations in store, but us coffee farmers are already looking at the conditions of the 2016 J.B.M. Coffee Crop. This is a critical growing period for our beloved Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee as we enter what can be a dry season during the Summer Months. As we all know, agriculture needs water to thrive, and without it, we lose coffee. Relying on mother nature can be a bit of a gamble as we learned last year, so what is the answer? Coffee plant irrigation.
As Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee Farmers, we are fortunate the Blue Mountains are made up of rain forests where water is evaporated at a slower rate, but we still need a constant stream of rain to keep the coffee plants thriving. if that is not the case, then the answer is coffee plant irrigation. Bear in mind that coffee thrives in regions that are more poverty stricken than not and far from a water source, so there are two big obstacles in the way.
However there are means that are sometimes a necessity especially when you are dealing with a small and valuable crop such as Jamaica Blue Mountain or Kona. Irrigation is needed when rainfall is less than 60 inches a year. It needs to be monitored by what is refereed to as “crop coefficient”. This is defined as the crop’s water demand compared to the amount of evaporation from an open pan of water placed in the growing area.
From a study done in Hawaii, ” Research has shown that young, non-bearing coffee trees require 60 percent of the amount of water normally lost to evaporation from an open pan, whereas bearing trees over two years old demand 75-80% of pan evaporation.”. Which makes sense due to the fact that trees with cherries need more water for the berries to grow. So you can see this needs to be precisely calculated since you don’t want to over water the plants causing a water-logging that can cause root damage and will lead to under developed plants. There can also be further damage if you read the
above linked article.
A drip coffee plant irrigation system works as water is fed from a stream or river and fed trough hoses that have small holes at set intervals that will allow the water to seep into the ground and reach the plants root system. Given the natural factors, this must be closely monitored; you can’t simply turn on the spigot and take off. Rain, cloud cover, wind, and excess periods of sun must be accounted for when you run a drip coffee plant irrigation system.
Here is an interesting clip from You Tube that goes into depth regarding drip coffee plant irrigation, and discusses all the particulars.
Trying to do what is right by mother nature can be a tricky task, even with all our modernization, but in areas far from water and civilized recources it can be a great means of having a sustaining means of becoming a degree further in being drought proof.
Without water, we have no coffee……