There are several pests and diseases that attack coffee trees. Some, like the coffee wilt are very dangerous that they can destroy an entire coffee shamba.
Others can be stopped through spraying and other management practices.
For the wilt, however, you need to keep constant watch over the shamba and eliminate any tree that shows signs of the coffee wilt.
The disease manifests through gradual drying of coffee trees. It has no treatment and so the remedy is to dig out the infected tree and then burn it up. If this is not done, then the shamba will be destroyed.
You can also mitigate the impact by planting varieties that are resistant to the wilt. Avoid sharing your farm tools with other farmers because that too facilitates the spread of diseases.
How do I control weeds from my coffee shamba?
Weeds can be controlled both manually and chemically. Manual control includes digging them out or slashing them, why chemically means using herbicides to kill the weeds. However, when picking which herbicides to use, consult farming extension workers in your area. Note that there are herbicides that kill all weeds and there are those that are selective. Weeding is done at least three times a year, while spraying may be done twice a year.
Does coffee require a lot of water to thrive?
Yes it does, but not as much as bananas for example. There are moisture saving practices that can help keep the shamba well watered. These include mulching with plant materials including grasses to at least 6 inches. Place the mulch at least 1feet away from the stem. You can dig water retention pits in the shamba because these keep water when it rains. Planting cover crops like mucuna, lablab, beans, groundnuts also help maintain moisture.
What pests and diseases affect coffee?
These are so many, however the different borers are commonest. These include the twig borer, white stem borer, berry borer, then bugs like the lace bug, mealy bug, aphids etc. Then the major diseases include coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) which attacks robusta only, the Leaf rust which attacks Arabica only, Coffee Berry Disease (Arabica) and the Red Blister Disease. To control CWD, you need to uproot all trees that show symptoms and burn them. Disinfect all farm tools regularly and plant resistant varieties.
How do I minimise post- harvest losses in coffee?
Coffee trees will start yielding after 3 to 4 years. Note that the quality of coffee depends on how well the coffee has been picked, processed, dried, packed and stored. In order to minimize contamination until safe storage, it is therefore important to carefully harvest and safely handle the harvested coffee through primary processing activities.
The quality depends on how and when picking is done from the field. Many farmers mix red ripe berries with shrivelled, black, discoloured and defective beans. The unripe berries produce beans that break easily, are of inferior quality, are small and are usually eliminated as part of the husks during milling, resulting in qualitative and quantitative postharvest losses. In addition, the immature beans give a bitter taste to the coffee.
-When picking coffee, carefully pick only the mature red beans leaving the green ones on the tree to ripen. Always pick, do not strip.
-Tarpaulin or other soft sheets must be spread on the ground below the coffee tree to avoid coffee beans from dropping to the ground directly. The sheets will also ensure proper collection of all the beans and will minimise contamination of the beans.
-If they drop on the bare ground, the beans should be picked carefully.
-Remove all inferior or green beans, leaves, twigs and foreign matter from harvested beans. Pick regularly, every 2 weeks, to get good yields and better quality.