Coffee is a valuable commodity that is traded extensively in more than sixty countries worldwide, providing a livelihood for over 25 million families. In Kenya, the coffee industry is a significant source of employment and contributes approximately 5% of the country’s revenue.
Coffee cultivation covers a land area of around 170,000 hectares and is grown at altitudes ranging from 1400 to 2100 meters above sea level. Both large-scale and small-scale farming practices are employed. While coffee is primarily grown for its beans used in beverages, the plant residues can also serve as a source of fuel, mulch, and organic manure. The predominant coffee variety cultivated in Kenya is known as coffee arabica.
PLANT NUTRITION AND FERTILIZATION
To achieve optimal coffee production, it is essential to provide the crop with proper nutrition, including both macro and micronutrients. This is accomplished through the application of basal and foliar fertilizers. After pruning the coffee trees and removing weeds, the fertilizer should be applied. Basal fertilizers, such as DAP, CAN, and NPK, are absorbed through the roots.
It is recommended to mix all ground fertilizers with Humipower® at a rate of 1kg of Humipower for every 50kg of fertilizer. Humipower improves nutrient absorption, enriches the soil with organic matter, stimulates growth, and stabilizes soil pH.
Coffee trees require ample amounts of potassium, nitrogen, and a small amount of phosphoric acid. Spread the fertilizer in a ring around each coffee plant, being careful to avoid direct contact with the trunk, branches, or leaves. Additionally, depending on the soil’s organic matter, the use of manure may also be beneficial.
Foliar fertilizers, on the other hand, are applied by spraying them onto the foliage. They include OPTIMIZER, GOLDCHANCE/LAVENDER SURSTARTER, SUPERGROWTH, FRUIT AND FLOWER, TOTAL, ZINC, and BORON. These foliar fertilizers are essential because nutrients are lost through harvesting, erosion, and leaching, and need to be replenished using the aforementioned methods.
ZINC AND BORON APPLICATION
Zinc and boron are vital nutrients required by coffee plants. Boron plays a crucial role in various processes, including root development, cell wall formation, cell division, enhanced nutrient uptake, water absorption, disease resistance, and thickening of cell walls to reduce attacks by pests like the white stem borer.
Boron is also essential for node development, fruit size, flowering, fruit setting, and drought resistance.
Zinc, on the other hand, increases overall crop yield, bean size, and cup quality. It reduces the likelihood of borer attacks, aids in protein synthesis, enhances coffee color index, reduces potassium leaching, and increases chlorogenic acid concentration.
For effective application, zinc and boron should be applied 1-2 months before flowering and twice a year, typically in January/February and July/August, depending on the main or early crop and your location. This application schedule helps to mitigate biennial cropping.
At MOIBEN CONNECTIONS, we offer the aforementioned foliar fertilizers. Our products include ZINC GOLD, applied at a rate of 10ml per 20 liters of water, and VITABOR GOLD, applied at a rate of 20ml per 20 liters of water. It is recommended to mix these products with Integra at a rate of 3ml per 20 liters of water. These products are readily available at stockists throughout the country.