Coffee-growing regions in Karnataka have started receiving pre-monsoon showers over the past couple of days. Parts of Chikmagaluru, Kodagu and Hassan districts have received rains and growers are looking forward to more showers in the days ahead to cover the entire growing regions in the largest coffee-producing State in India.

Pre-monsoon showers during March-April are crucial to coffee plants to trigger flowering. These showers are popularly called blossom showers and subsequent showers received after a fortnight are called “backing” showers, considered important for the setting of next year’s crop.

Must undergo stress

After the harvest, coffee plants need to go through some stress before blossom starts for the next season. The stress period for arabica is about three months, while for robusta it is about 1.5-2 months.

“Many areas have received rains and hopefully, the areas that received less will receive more over the next two days,” said Mahesh Shashidhar, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association, in Chikmagalur. Pre-monsoon showers will help robusta growers as most would have irrigated and this will act as a backing shower, Shashidhar said. For arabica growers, the current spell of showers are considered as blossom showers.

“There have been good rains in some areas around Sakleshpur, but not very widespread. It is welcome. It is still early days and around this time it rains over the next 10 days,” said Jeffry Rebello, President, United Planters Association of South India, and a coffee grower from Sakleshpur.

In Kodagu, the largest coffee-growing region, several areas received hailstorms on Tuesday evening. “Normally, pre-monsoon rains arrive first in the southern parts of Kodagu, but this year we have received them early,” said N Bose Mandanna, a large arabica grower in Suntikoppa, central Kodagu. Mainly, arabica estates around Suntikoppa have received good blossom showers.

Running blossom

Mandanna said most of South Kodagu, a major robusta-growing area that gets first showers, has remained dry. “With rain forecast over the next two days, we are hoping that these regions also receive the showers. The latest rains in Coorg would have covered about 20-25 per cent of the areas,” he said.

With all the key growing areas receiving unseasonal rains in January this year, which had triggered early flowering in about 40 per cent of the areas, there will be a running blossom this year, Mandanna said.

For the current crop year 2022-23 ending September, the state-run Coffee Board has estimated output of 3.60 lakh tonnes including 1.01 lakh tonnes of arabicas and 2.59 lakh tonnes of robusta. Karnataka accounts for about 70 per cent of the country’s coffee output.