Unseasonal Rain

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Mitigating The Effect Of Unseasonal Rain And Combating Abnormally Low Coffee Yields Through Targeted Micro-Nutrient Supplements

Background:

For four decades now, Indian Arabica Coffee plantations have regularly dealt with years when the yield has dropped from an expected 1500 kilograms of clean coffee per hectare to a mere 600 kilograms per hectare (around 40% of expected yields). In better years, plantations are able to harvest only 875 kilograms per hectare despite using the best agronomic practices available. While the poor yields were initially attributed to the local climatic and soil conditions, in recent years the problem has been compounded by unseasonal rains that prevent the conversion of flowers into coffee fruit. Apart from the
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In Colombia for instance, despite the weather being wet throughout the year, even during the critical period after the harvest, plantations experience record yields of 2400 kilograms per hectare. The amount of rainfall received annually is nearly identical in both India and Colombia (approximately 200 cm per year), but Indian plantations receive most of the rain during the monsoon months while in Colombia, the rain is distributed evenly throughout the year. Surprisingly, the perennial Colombian rain has never affected Coffee yields and Colombian cultivators have gone on to enjoy the highest yields worldwide. Farmers in Colombia and Brazil employ similar agronomic practices as those in India do; however, one key difference between the Coffee industries in the two countries lies in the nutritional package deployed in the…show more content…
However, one key factor that the Indian Coffee industry has failed to study is the availability of critical micronutrients like Boron, Zinc and Molybdenum that are required for proper flowering and setting. The prevailing opinion here is that the soil possesses all required micronutrients in adequate quantities, as it is virgin forest soil. While this may have been true decades ago, over the years constant extraction of nutrients by plants has severely depleted critical micronutrients in the soil. These nutrients have never featured in the research conducted by institutes here, nor have they been supplemented by the use of appropriate fertilizers and micronutrient mixtures.

Identifying the Nutrient:

The first step in identifying the deficient or excess micronutrient involved collecting soil samples from 20 designated sites in the 280-hectare plantation. A set of samples was collected in Februaury 2014 and sent to the local soil-testing lab for analysis. An analysis of the results of the tests revealed the following:

1) The levels of all the macronutrients namely Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous were stable and sufficient.
2) The levels of Zinc, Molybdenum and Iron in the soil were adequate in all sites because these nutrients were being supplemented by frequent applications of
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