Have you ever wondered where the coffee you drink come from? How is it grown?
The following article will enable you to discover how coffee is grown in the early stages of the planting process.
The first step in the process is to select the seeds or "semillas" This step is the most important step for quality since depending on the variety of the coffee tree, the quality of the cup will be defined.
Sometimes, coffee growers just save the best of the coffee cherries in the high season harvest to obtain the seeds for next year nursery. Other options are, to buy certified seeds provided my local institutions like Icafe, CATIE or local dealers.
The most common seeds at the moment is the Caturra and Catuai Arabica varieties. Also available are the Geisha, Venecia, Bourbon, Typica, Villalobos, Villa Sarchi, Maico, all of them Arabicas.
Some coffee Growers prefer hybrids like Catimor which adapt perfectly to high altitudes and provided higher yields. This type of Catimor is not apt for high quality coffees since some Robusta genes have been blended with Arabica to make it adaptable to certain conditions. Seeds should be stored in a cool dry place away from sunlight.
Once the seeds are obtained, you have to make them germinate by making a "semillero". This step has to be executed carefully to make sure the seeds don't get ruined by many factors.
The soil should be treated with fertilizers and insecticides, and seeds, once put on the ground, should be carefully covered with banana leaves or a tropical leaf that permeate water and keep the seeds cool during the hot dry days.
The seeds should be watered regularly. Once they germinate the process is to be vigilant on when and how to take the leaves cover and start airing the new plants. Most people, once the seeds germinate, take the leave cover out and elevate them to about 1 meter to make sure the hot sun of the season don't take the moisture away from the soil.
3. Pica del terreno
In the meantime, coffee growers have plenty of time to prepare the terrain where the coffee seeds will be planted. That process is usually labor intensive. Most of the coffee nurseries in Tarrazu are located in steep terrain and sometimes such terrain is covered by bushes. So first task is to clear the land, get reed of weeds, rocks, etc and plow and flatten the soil to make it suitable for planting. The land is divided in smaill rows we called "eras" which will enable the help to weed and take care of the seedlings later on. Coffee farmers in Costa Rica call it "Pica del Terreno"
When the rains arrive in May, the seedlings are ready to be transplanted to the "Almacigal". The plants are transplanted and put in the prepared terrain in bunches of two or 3 seeds, with a distance of 20 centimeters in between the plants. The planting should be carefully coordinated with the arrival of the rain in the green season, otherwise the seeds will die because of the lack of water and the hot sun in late April in Costa Rica
Thus, the coffee plants are now in the nursery. It will take months of caring for the plants, fertilizer, weeding out the terrain and careful monitoring until the next year, when the plants are ready to be transplanted to the coffee farm. Once in the coffee farm, the young plants will take about 3 years to yield the first coffee cherries.