Growing Organic Coffee in the Shade

Growing organic coffee in the shade is how growers follow the traditional means of growing coffee. Coffee is grown in the tropics and traditionally grows on the sides of hills and mountains. The time honored means of planting is to put 20 seeds in a hole of which about half survive to grow into coffee bushes. Traditional planting takes place at the start of the rainy season. It takes several years for coffee to mature and start producing coffee beans. Thus traditional growers often plant other crops amount the coffee while it is maturing. Today most growers follow the example set in Brazil of growing seedlings in a greenhouse and then planting outside when they are ready. Growing organic coffee in the shade is done by two methods. One is to partially clear forest and plant coffee. The other is to plant trees among the coffee in order to provide shade. When fruit trees are used the coffee grower enjoys two crops on the same land. He grows healthy organic coffee and crops such as plantain as well.

In growing organic coffee in the shade two general species of coffee can be used. One is aribica and the other is canephora, also referred to as robusta. Many growers and coffee lovers prefer aribica but robusta is hardier and has about fifty percent more caffeine. Robusta is typically less expensive while growers worldwide plant more aribica. Robusta, or coffea canephora, is more resistant to diseases that attack coffee and can also be cultivated at lower altitudes and in warmer climates than aribica. Robusta is substantially more resistant than aribca to coffee leaf rust as well as the various beetles, bugs, nematodes, mites, snails, and slugs that attack coffee plants. In growing organic coffee in the shade growers use sustainable agricultural practices to promote growth and to avoid and control coffee plant diseases. By doing so organic growers avoid the use of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and synthetic fertilizers. Organic coffee certification requires that growers not use these means of avoiding and treating coffee diseases and that he can document this.

In growing organic coffee in the shade growers must wait as many as ten years for a full bearing coffee plant. An established coffee plantation will commonly stagger its planting so that some plants are bearing coffee while others are growing. Because much coffee is planted on very steep slopes growers commonly terrace the soil. This not only helps conserve water where the plant is but helps control erosion. Interspersing coffee with other plants and trees also helps keep plants from washing away in the rainy season. The last advantage of terracing is that pickers have flat a place to walk when picking the beans. It probably also makes it easier for the inspector when he comes to certify that the coffee planter growing organic coffee in the shade is growing USDA organic coffee . Growing organic coffee in the shade helps protect the environment as a sustainable coffee growing technique. It typically reduces the need for the many artificial practices that can contaminate the end product, a delicious cup of coffee.

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