Undoubtedly, coffee is a key product in Brazilian agribusiness. Nevertheless, in order to reach good productivity and quality in the next two harvests, it is necessary to apply some good agricultural practices in crop management as soon as the current harvest period ends.
In advance, one of the main points is pest control. Coffee berry-borer beetle (Hypothenemus hampei), for instance, might cause serious issues to coffee farming. From decrease in yield to the loss of quality properties, which result in lower final price for the product.
The berry-borer beetle is difficult to control, knowing that the insect spends great part of its life cycle inside the fruits. The infestation is only perceived when female insects start piercing the fruits of the new harvest. That’s why crop treats and pest control are vital to downplay losses. Whether by biological, cultural or chemical control.
Practices against the berry-borer beetle
The impacts caused by the berry-borer beetle may come in different ways, as in physical aspect. The pierced fruits are considered “defects”, and they impair the result of classification. Furthermore, the holes might be favorable for the incidence of fungi that spoil the quality of beverage, and decreases market value. Also, the weight of the fruit is affected, resulting in loss of productivity.
There are many different options available for preventing the plants from being infested by the beetle. And the most efficient way is integrating different methods.
One of the main ways to tackle the beetle is well conducted picking and sweeping procedures. Therefore, it is important to avoid to leave fruits on the soil or in the plant. Such remnant fruits would provide shelter and food to the insects that would attack in the following season. That’s the importance of eliminating such fruits from the tillage: reducing pressure of the pest for the following season. Besides, it reduces the need for pesticides and money spent with labor and fuel for spraying.
In addition, traps to attract the beetles are effective methods for pest management. As well as application of either chemical or biological pesticides available in the market. Such measures should be implemented mainly in the plots of land that present higher percentage of infestation in the current crop.
Good practices in coffee plantations after harvest
Another important caution with the coffee plantation at this point concerns the damages eventually inflicted to plants during harvest. Either by hand or machine picking. Unavoidably, the plants are hurt. Such wounds might be favorable for fungi that bring diseases to the plant. Consequently, it is important to spray each plot after the harvest procedure. Spraying with copper-based fungicides is aimed at healing the wounds, preventing diseases to occur.
Before applying any foliar product, a previous evaluation is necessary. Cooxupé’s technical department is ready to support its members, knowing that the procedure must be carried out by qualified agronomists/technicians. They will analyze possible pest infestations, nourish deficit, and the most appropriate product for each case. Personal protective equipment and specialized service are imperative towards sustainable coffee farming.
Organic matter from sweeping
Just after harvesting and sweeping the tillage, the remaining material must be pushed near the coffee trees. In Brazil such procedure is known as “chegar o cisco”. The material left from sweeping is rich in nutrients and organic matter. Therefore, returning such material to the coffee trees promotes better nutrition to plants, and reduction of costs.
Then, soil correction must be carried out based on the result of soil analysis. Such correction is performed with limestone [chalk], which provides calcium and magnesium to plants, besides correcting soil pH. It also enhances the availability of other nutrients, increasing the efficiency of fertilizers.
Still during the dry period, gypsum might be applied to provide Sulphur to the soil. It also optimizes the conditions of deeper layers of ground, enhancing the resistance of plants for dry periods. Also based on soil analyses, phosphate fertilizers and sources of Boron might be applied. These inputs might be applied during dry periods to optimize the performance of labor force in the farm.
For better operational conditions, the application of coffee straw or other organic matter, as manure, poultry manure, or organic compounds, might be conducted before the rainy season starts.
Good practices for flowering
Flowering starts a few days after the beginning of rainy season. And, in order to guarantee the success of blooming, plants must have abundant and healthy leaves. For this purpose, pest and disease management must be up to date, for such issues might cause shedding of leaves and negatively interfere in flowering.
Besides provoking shedding of leaves, some fungi also cause diseases in the small green fruits (chumbinhos). So, it is quite important to conduct spraying before and after flowering, in two steps. Firstly, during pre-flowering, just before blooming. Secondly, just after dry petals fall, in order to reach the small green fruits.
In short, the objective of these good agricultural practices is to protect flowering from diseases, specially the Phoma spot. Such plague attacks leaves, branches, and buds (mummification of small green fruits), causing loss or absence of small green fruits at clusters, thus resulting in great losses.
Before conducting any procedure, it is necessary that a qualified technician caries out previous assessment to verify the level of damages caused by pests, diseases, and nutritional deficit.
The outcome of such good agricultural practices is: good productivity, high quality, with efficiency, safety, and sustainability in coffee farming.