We are heading back to the farm to comment on the latest happenings since our last note. The rainy season began in May but was not as wet as in prior years. There has been a lot of talk about La Niña this year, and well, it means less rain. To put it in perspective, rainfall in May was 70% less than last year and 60% less than our five-year historical average. It is still early in the season, but less rain will likely impact future yields. It is not all bad since the last five years were very wet.
So, as the wet season begins, the team at the farm has been tackling weed control. The last time that weeds were managed was back in October 2022, right before the harvest. Rain since then has been minimal, so weeds have not been an issue, but it is important to bring them under control since weeds tend to grow quickly.
The process is manual and hard and also could be dangerous if one is not careful. Most team members still approach it with their good and trusty “machete” and they slice back and forth the field at a height of about two inches from the ground, avoiding rocks and tree trunks. It takes one person about a day to clear half an acre.
The reason for doing weed control in this way is to avoid using chemicals when and wherever possible. The weeds that are cut will decompose back into the soil and help with soil fertility and bean quality.
Most weeds stay in place and mainly compete with the coffee plant for nutrients. Some are benign as they provide soil cover and do not grow more than five inches tall.
The ones that we have to be careful about are the creeping vines. These will attach to the coffee tree and coil around it, eventually killing it. Nasty things, which are difficult to kill.
A few years back we decided to go “old-school” and dig the vines out of the soil. In the picture below you can see the tubers of the vines, which serve as nutrient storage and the main reason that they just creep back up and make them hardy.
It is a never-ending cycle with weeds, trying to bring them under control. At the farm, we tend to do three controls during the year, but I promise I will only go into this much depth on this note alone.
Have a great week and thank you for tuning in,