Pruning Coffee by Bob Smith
WHY: Coffee trees require yearly pruning to remove unproductive branches and to make space for new vigorous growth. Coffee verticals have a growth cycle of 3 years. Maximum production is achieved the 3rd year. Growth thereafter is on a biennial schedule with high yield/low yield in alternating years. Approximately 1/3 of the verticals will be removed yearly.
WHEN: The pruning “window” is January- April, so pruning should be accomplished when moisture conditions are conducive for new vigorous growth. Stripping trees prior to pruning is highly recommended for reducing CBB populations.
1) Kona Style or Multiple Verticals
This method treats every tree individually with verticals of all ages on the same tree. This method allows much leeway on the number of verticals per coffee stump. Usually, it consists of 2 verticals each of the different ages – (2/1 year, 2/2 years and 3/3 years) – though this method can have endless variations and some verticals can be even taken to a fourth or fifth year.
2) Beaumont/Fukunaga Method (BF)
This pruning method recognizes the 3 year cycle and treats every tree, in a row, the same way. Thus 1 row will be pruned each year, resulting in rows of 1, 2 and 3 year old verticals. This method is the easiest to master and most economical, however it allows for no variation.
TREATMENT of PRUNED VERTICALS:
Pruning results in a mess! Pruned verticals can be mechanically chipped or hand cut and mulched or simply piled up and allowed to decompose naturally. It is important to note that returning the prunings to ground, is important for adding organic matter back to the soil.
1) When pruning a coffee tree for the first time, cut at approximate height of about 30” for easier work of maintenance.(Selecting, suckering and picking)
2) Prune off old verticals about 1 inch above the stump.
3) Allowing prunings to lie in place until the leaves fall off is a good way to redistribute leaf litter. It also lightens up the cut vertical, making it easier to deal with for trimming or chipping.
4) Remove all sucker growth on tree at the time of pruning.