This is the final installment of the series on coffee farming, where I've been taking you through a typical year on our coffee farm in El Salvador. In the last blog, we discussed fertilization and weed control that is carried out during the wet or rainy season (May to September) - a continuous cycle aimed at maintaining optimal conditions for our coffee plants. Our goal is to fertilize every 45 days, completing three fertilizations during this season.
October and November are low-activity periods as we wait for the cherries to ripen before harvest. During this time, some foliar nutrient applications and additional weed control take place, alongside road maintenance to ensure easy access for workers during harvest. Starting in late October, we carefully monitor the coffee cherries to identify areas that become ready for picking. It's an exciting but also stressful time of the year, as the result of the work performed and decisions made throughout the year will hopefully manifest themselves into the yields and quality aimed at.
As different varieties and altitudes influence the maturation times in different parts of the farm, managing the picking schedule becomes crucial. At this time, my father, Mauricio, is in El Salvador, as we speak, personally overseeing this year's harvest.
From left to right: Beatriz (My sister), my dad and my aunt at the farm last week.
To allow for even ripening, we perform three "passes" during the harvest. The first pass selectively picks ripe cherries, allowing others to continue to ripen more evenly. The second pass harvests the majority, leaving behind some late blooming green or yellow cherries. The last pass picks everything left on the trees. Harvest time spans about two months, from December to January and sometimes into mid-February.
Approximately 50 people, equipped with baskets secured around their waists, go tree by tree during harvest, hand-picking the mature cherries. Once the basket is full (around 25 pounds), the cherries are transferred to a bag. On average, a worker fills about two bags per day. Before weighing, unripe cherries are meticulously removed by hand to ensure that only ripe cherries of the highest quality are sent to the mill. The unripe cherries, considered of lower quality, are separated and may be sold locally or blended and sold at the mill.
As we move forward, the next steps in our coffee's journey are milling and export to Canada, a topic we will delve into in upcoming blogs.
Hydrangeas at the farm.
Have a great weekend everyone!