Blossom Irrigation procedures in Robusta Coffee Plantations

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As explained in our last article [Read here : Importance of Irrigation in Robusta Coffee Plantations ] Robusta invariably requires Pre-Blossom showers, Blossom showers and Post blossom showers at regular timely intervals and any deviation from the norm will drastically affect the yield and productivity of the farm.  So this article brings detailed discussion on each ones.

WINTER IRRIGATION

Coffee farmers with adequate storage tanks, generally commence winter irrigation for Robusta variety in the months of November and December to reduce the period of drought. Winter irrigation is known to boost up the physiological activities of the coffee bush and improve the organic matter decomposition of coffee soils. Winter irrigation also helps the bush to overcome the inadequate natural blossom showers in the month of February and March essential for flowering.

Points to consider in winter irrigation

  • The timing and quantity of winter irrigation is very crucial in realizing the benefits of winter irrigation.
  • The first irrigation should commence within 15 days from the last major rainfall of the North-East monsoon.
  • The first irrigation should consist of at least one acre inch of water and the subsequent irrigations should consist of three fourth acre inch of water and can be repeated every three weeks up to the end of December.
  • It is important to note that the coffee bush requires a moisture stress period for at least 45 days starting from January.
  • This stress has a direct bearing on the biochemical activities of the plant and prepares the flower buds to open up during the subsequent irrigation or natural showers.

Results of Winter Irrigation:

The most noticeable difference with winter irrigation is the uniform ripening of berries ensuring good quality of coffee beans. This uniformity in ripening reduces labor costs, since coffee can be hand picked in just one or two rounds compared to three rounds.

BLOSSOM SHOWERS

  • Sprinkler irrigation for Robusta blocks is generally carried out during the second week of February for selection Robusta (S-274) and the first week of March for old Robusta.
  • The minimum amount of water to induce healthy blossom is one and a half acre inches of water for S-274 and three fourth acre inches for old Robusta.
  • It is imperative that the coffee farmer completes his ROBUSTA blossom showers before the 15th of March. Any delay after the second week of March results in the bud damage to the tune of 25 to 30 %.

Arabica varieties are more tolerant to drought and irrigation need be given in the month of April if natural showers fail.

[Also Read  : Importance of Irrigation in Robusta Coffee Plantations ]

CARE TO BE TAKEN BEFORE BLOSSOM SHOWERS

  • The area under the coffee bush should be cleared of all leaf litter up to a radius of two and a half feet.
  • Coffee blocks receiving sprinkler irrigation (specific day), should be fertilised with 125 grams urea (nitrogen). mixed with 50 grams of neem cake. World wide, research indicates that at the time of flowering, the plant requires a tremendous amount of energy. Hence, to meet this energy demand, application of urea is done. Urea easily dissolves with water and is immediately made available to the plant. (Plz take expert advice here)
  • The very next day after irrigation, the leaf litter should be spread out at the base of the plant to conserve moisture.

BACKING SHOWERS

Water is one of the key elements in determining the fruit set. At times, when the rains fail, backing showers, 21 days after the first blossom showers is very crucial in ensuring proper fruit set. Any delay may cause irreparable damage leading to abortion of the fruit. Backing showers should be repeated every 21 days until the onset of monsoon. Generally, the amount of water required for backing showers is in the range of three fourth to half an acre inch of water.

CRITERIA ADOPTED 

  • The leaf water potential at which there is a reduction of 50% photosynthetic efficiency of the pla
    nts was considered as criteria for identifying the period of irrigation.
  • Depletion of soil moisture content from the field capacity to 10% moisture content (50% of its field capacity).

CONCLUSION

Irrigated coffee has many shapes, sizes and faces. These range from large storage tanks, stream or river fed surface systems, bore wells or tube wells to open wells. Water being a limited resource, its efficient use is critical to the well being of the farm. This point in time, we emphasize the fact that, irrigation plays a pivotal role in the establishment and productiveness of ecofriendly Indian Robustas.

The yield per acre in Robusta farms is twice compared to Arabica farms and this is possible only because of irrigation. Coffee farmers are aware that irrigation can give assured crops, but they need to be enlightened on effective irrigation management practices to maximize yields. For e.g. If excess of irrigation is provided during drought conditions, then the plants become highly susceptible to the very same life giving water.

[Also Read  : Importance of Irrigation in Robusta Coffee Plantations ]

Also read  Coffee Prices (Karnataka) on 04-05-2018

Source

[1]. The Fine Art of Irrigation in Robusta Coffee Plantations

The contents of this document is reproduced here with prior permission of the author DrAnand Pereira .
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