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There are two types of coffee- Arabica and Robusta.

Arabica type:

  • Selection 5 B (S 2931)
  • Selection 6
  • Selection 9 (S 2790)
  • Selection 12 (Kaveri)
  • Selection 7.3 (S 3807)
  • Selection 8 (HDT)

Robusta type:

  • Selection IR (S 274)
  • Selection 3 R (C x R)

Climate and soil

The soil should be deep, friable, and rich in organic matter with a pH of 6.0-6.5. The soil and climatic requirements for Arabica and Robusta types are as follows:





1000-1500 m above MSL

500-1000 m above MSL

Annual rainfall

1600-2500 mm

1000-2000 mm

Blossom rain

March-April (2.5 - 4.0 cm)

Feb-March (2.0 - 4.0 cm)

Backing rain

April-May (5.0 - 7.5 cm)

April-May (5.0 - 7.5 cm)


Medium to light

Uniform thin







Planting material

In coffee, generally the propagation is done through seeds and of late in Robusta, the clonal propagation was also established to be successful. To a limited extent, grafted plants are also being planted.

Germination bed (Primary)

Seeds are sown in raised seed beds (15 cm above the ground level) provided with proper drainage prepared out of soil, compost and sand at 6:2:1 proportion. A bed of 4 x 3 m will be sufficient for 1.5 kg of seeds, if sown 1.0 to 1.5 cm apart in rows, with the flat side of the seed towards the soil. A thin layer of soil is spread after sowing and covered with dry straw to a thickness of about 5 cm to ensure uniform temperature and to regulate moisture retention. Sowing is to be taken up in December-January for Arabica and in February-March for Robusta. Watering of the seed beds is to be done twice a day in the initial week and thereafter regulated. The seeds sprout in about 40 days when the straw mulch is removed. The primary beds are provided with pandal covered with coir mats or dry leaves

Land preparation

If it is a jungle, only selective felling of trees is done maintaining the trees, which are desirable at appropriate spacing. The under growth may be cleared to enable line marking with a base line and opening of pits. The entire plot may be conveniently divided into blocks with roads and footpaths.

In April, pits of 45 x 45 x 45 cm may be opened at appropriate spacing for different coffee cultivars as described below.

Tall Arabica like S 795, S 288

2.1 m x 2.1 m

Semi-dwarfs like Cauvery

1.8 m x 1.8 m

Dwarfs like S 7 (San Ramon)

1.5 m x 1.5 m

Hybrids like Congensis x Robusta (CxR)

2.5 m x 2.5 m

Robusta selections like S 274, BR series

3.0 m x 3.0 m

The pits after digging will be kept open for weathering for a couple of months until monsoon. In June, the pits are covered with topsoil and staked. In poor soils, 250 g of FYM or compost per pit may be added before filling.


Disease free and vigorous seedlings are selected for planting. Seedlings with stunted and twisted roots are discarded. Rooted plants (aged 16-18 months) with and without ball are planted during June and bag plants are generally planted during Sept- Oct. A hole is made at the centre of the pit after leveling the soil. The seedling is placed in the hole with its taproot and lateral roots spread out in proper position. The hole is then filled. The soil around the seedling is packed 3 cm high above the ground to prevent stagnation of water around the collar. The seedlings are provided with cross stakes to prevent wind damage and mulched properly.

Ball and bag seedlings are planted towards the end of the heavy monsoon rains and commencement of northeast rains, i.e., in September. First the bottom portion of the bag is cut and the tip of the root is nipped. The seedling is gently removed from the bag with its soil and root system intact and planted in the hole. The hole is covered with soil and the plant is firmly fixed similar to ball plants. It is wise to maintain both types of nurseries and have planting seasons, June and September.

Planting Shade Trees

Dadap is commonly used as a lower canopy shade. Stakes of 2 m length are planted for every two plants of coffee. Silver oak and dadap are planted during June when the southwest monsoon commences. During the dry seasons, stems of young dadap are either painted with dilute lime solution or wrapped in agave leaves to protect them from sun scorch.


Fertilizer recommendation for coffee (N:P2O5:K2O, kg/ha)


Time of application

Pre-blossom (March)

Post-blossom, pre-monsoon (May)

Mid-monsoon (August)

Post-monsoon (October)


1st year





2nd and 3rd year





4th year





Bearing coffee 5 years and above: for less than 1 t/ha crop





For 1 t/ha and above






For less than 1t/ha crop





For 1 t/ha and above






Wherever water is available, overhead irrigation by sprinkler system is adopted to a greater advantage during November-January to keep the soil moisture level and in February-April for ensuring blossom as well as backing, if necessary.

Plants affected by drought limit vegetative growth, show floral abnormalities and poor fruit set resulting in reduced yield. Therefore, drought tolerance is an important aspect of coffee productivity. Arabica coffee is more tolerant to drought than Robusta. For inducing tolerance in Robusta the following nutrient solution can be sprayed @ 1 litre per plant.

Nutrient in 200 litres of water


1 kg


1 kg

Muriate of potash

750 g

Zinc sulphate

1 kg

1st spray: 45 days after the last rainfall (usually the 2nd fortnight of January)

2nd spray: 30-45 days after the first spray

Foliar application of anti-transpirants like Ralli Dhan 110 @ 200 ml in 200 litres of water (0.1%) is also useful for drought management in coffee.

Training and Pruning

The plant is trained either on single stem or multiple stem system. Under South Indian conditions periodical handling and pruning are essential. The type and frequency of pruning have to be decided based on a number of factors like the type of vegetative growth, incidence of pests / diseases, pattern of blossom showers etc. Centering and desuckering are to be carried out for about 5 or 6 years after planting. Removal of the dead and whippy wood is essential during the early years. Mature plants may require medium to severe pruning once in four years.

Usually coffee, both arabica and robusta, is trained on single stem. When the plants reach a desired height of 75 cm for arabica and 105-120 cm for robusta, they are topped i.e., growing apex of the stem is severed. Low topping (60-70 cm) is advocated in areas of severe wind and exposure. Under certain circumstances, multiple stem system is also adopted as in the case of replanted fields or when under-planting is taken up keeping the old plants under multiple stem system.

Growth hormones (Fruit drop)

During the developmental stage of berry, 10 to 50 per cent premature fruit drop occurs due to insufficient carbohydrate, auxin-carbohydrate imbalance, nutritional disorders and water-logging. Many growth regulators have been tried to increase the fruit set and for controlling the pre-mature fruit drop. Following growth regulators could increase the yield when they are given as foliar application 10-15 days after blossom (first spray) and during last week of May before the onset of southwest monsoon (second spray).

Growth regulator

In 200 ml of water

Dose/ha (for 1.5 l)


50 ml

375 ml


50 ml

375 ml


50 ml

375 ml


50 ml

375 ml


50 ml

375 ml

Cytozyme crop

60 ml

450 ml

Ascorbic acid

20 g

150 g


Each year coffee is harvested during the dry season when the coffee cherries are bright red, glossy, and firm. Ripe cherries are either picked by hand, stripped from the tree with both unripe and overripe beans, or all the beans are collected using a harvesting machine. These processes are called selective picking, stripping, and mechanical harvesting, respectively.

To maximize the amount of ripe coffee harvested it is necessary to selectively pick the beans from the ripe tree by hand and leave behind unripe, green beans to be harvested at a later time.

About 12-20 kg of export ready coffee will be produced from every 100 kg of coffee cherries harvested.


Before shipment coffee must be dried from approximately 60% moisture content to 11-12% moisture content.

 Coffee is typically dried on large patios made of asphalt or cement and then transferred to mechanical dryers. 

Once the coffee reaches 25% moisture or less it can be piled at night and covered with cotton cloths to allow the coffee to breath.


Irrespective of the harvesting method, green coffee beans and overripe coffee cherries inevitably end up mixed with the perfectly ripe cherries and must be separated. Overripe coffee cherries, undeveloped coffee cherries, sticks and leaves float in water. Ripe coffee beans and green coffee cherries are dense and sink. The ripe and green cherries can be sent to the patios to be dried using the natural (dry) process or can be sent to the pulping machines.

The pulped beans are put into cement tanks with water and are allowed to ferment for 16-36 hours. On the way to the fermentation tanks another density separation can occur. The highest quality coffees are the most dense and should be separated and fermented in a different tank