Coffee holds a significant position in the global market, being traded as a valuable commodity in more than sixty countries. This thriving industry supports the livelihoods of over 25 million families worldwide.

In Kenya, about 70% of coffee production comes from small-scale farmers, directly or indirectly employing approximately 6 million people. The primary coffee cultivation areas in Kenya include the high plateau of Mount Kenya, Aberdare ranges, Kisii, Nyanza, Bungoma, Nakuru, Kericho, Machakos, Taita Hill, and the coastal provinces.

Promoting Good Farming Practices

Every farmer aims for optimum coffee production. To achieve this, it is crucial to cultivate healthy coffee plants through well-balanced fertilization. This promotes robust growth in the early years, allowing young plants to compete effectively with weeds for essential resources like space, light, nutrients, and water. Proper feeding is essential for this purpose. Planting improved coffee varieties densely has proven beneficial, as it encourages the canopy of the bushes to close early, reducing weed growth in the plantations.

Dealing with Weeds in Coffee Plantations

Weeds pose a significant challenge in various crops, including coffee. They negatively impact plant vigor, reduce production, compete for nutrients, and act as hosts for pests. Coffee plantations encounter numerous perennial and annual weeds, such as pigweed, blackjack, gallant soldier, Mexican marigold, wandering jew, nutgrass, love grass, couch grass, star grass, and more.

Weed Management Strategies

Controlling and minimizing weeds is crucial to create a favorable balance in vegetation for beneficial and neutral plant species. It is vital to identify harmful weeds, regularly monitor their presence, and understand the most effective methods to manage different weed types. In central Kenya, weed occurrence is typically observed during the rainy seasons, both the long and short rains that occur twice a year.

Methods of Weed Control

1. Use of Shade Trees: Shade trees help reduce weed growth by providing natural mulch cover from fallen leaves and pruning materials, effectively inhibiting weed development.

2. Polycropping: Planting companion crops like beans between coffee rows during the initial growth stage contributes to suppressing weed growth.

3. Dead Mulching: Crop waste such as beans, maize, grass cuttings, and herbaceous plant material can be scattered over the soil, acting as a mulch layer that hinders weed growth.

4. Manual Weed Control: This method involves removing weeds entirely from the coffee drip zone and between rows. It offers good control over weeds, and the removed material can decompose and become compost. This practice should be followed during the first two years.

5. Chemical Control with Herbicides: Herbicides provide advantages over manual weeding in terms of speed, effectiveness, labor savings, and efficiency. Herbicides should be applied when target weeds are small (2 to 3 leaf stage) and should be targeted and selective.

Introducing Glyphosate Herbicides

Glyphosate, specifically N-phosphonomethyl glycine, is a widely used non-selective broad-spectrum systemic post-emergence herbicide globally for the past three decades. It hampers the synthesis of aromatic amino acids, leading to metabolic disruptions, including inhibition of protein and secondary product biosynthesis. At GREENLIFE, we offer Clampdown® 480 SL and Catapult® 480 SL for effective weed control on your farm. The recommended dosage is 200ml/20l, along with 3mls/20l of Integra, using clean water for optimal results. Here are the advantages of using Clampdown or Catapult:

  • Cost-effective – One liter of herbicide is sufficient to weed one acre of land.
  • Long-lasting –  It eliminates various types of weeds, ensuring a clean ground for extended periods, typically requiring weeding once or twice a year.
  • Time-saving – Weeding can be efficiently completed within a day, unlike other methods.
  • Economical – Using Clampdown or Catapult proves to be a cost-effective option compared to other weed control methods.

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