BEST PRACTICES: PRUNING PRACTICES-Notes updated 12/28/2022
- Pruning is the start of the farming year.
- Coffee beans form on last year’s growth. Three years growth on the vertical gives the maximum crop.
- Remove suckers on bent over verticals if using the “Multi-vertical” method.
- The “Beaumont-Fukunaga” method prunes every third row to the stump, permitting more space and light and thus better yield per tree. This works well for new plantings. It is very efficient, because one only has to remember which row to prune, and no decisions other than pruning down to the stump.
- For the “Multi-vertical” method, one has 1, 2 and 3 year old verticals on the same stump. Remember the idea is to give plenty of light and air to each vertical. Older trees have more space to have multi-age verticals.
- Even at best, you will lose some trees with each pruning; replant yearly when a tree is shaky or not thriving. “If a tree is not doing well for me, it’s gone.” Use the pull test: if the tree is shaky, get rid of it.”
- Never prune before January. Wait until there is adequate rainfall for new growth. New Growth begins about March, depending on the rain.
- First suckering about three months later
- Sucker the second time about three months later.
- Wait until suckers are about 8 inches tall so you can bend gently and check which to prune and which to keep. Remember new growth must be unimpeded. Remove any lower laterals that will impede new growth. Too many branches is NOT better! Let the light in.
- If you start by planting a coffee seed, it takes 4 years to reach full maturity, thereafter it becomes a 3 year cycle
- The height of the stump should be about as high as your knee. This is for ease of pruning and harvesting.
- Malformed shoots happen on almost every tree. Never choose these for new verticals.
- Prune for square stumps, not at an angle. Select shoots closest to the pruning line to get the strongest connection to the tree.
- Leave the prunings and clippings where they fall to increase humus. No need to burn clippings nor need to haul them away. Pile them up or trim down or chip them in the field. Let them decay returning the organic matter to the soil which is important for healthy soil.