Agri Business

Pre-monsoon rains ease concerns among coffee growers

Vishwanath Kulkarni Bengaluru | Updated on April 21, 2021

Untimely rains in Jan-Feb may lead to early harvest in some areas in Karnataka

After an erratic start, key coffee-growing regions of the country in Karnataka and Kerala have started receiving pre-monsoon rains, easing concerns among growers.

“We have had good rains in the past few days in all the three districts, which is good for both Arabicas and Robustas,” said S Appadurai, Chairman, Karnataka Planters’ Association (KPA).

Parts of major coffee-growing districts — Chikkamagaluru, Kodagu and Hassan — had received rains in January and early February, which was untimely, and had triggered blossoms in both varieties. Rains in February coincided with the harvest of Robustas, delaying pickings in some regions. “We should have got backing rains within 25 days of the February rains, but people who didn’t receive the rains had started irrigating Robustas. Also, these rains will help blossom in some Arabica growing regions and should ease concerns,” he said.

The traditional Revathy rain in early April, which growers rely on for blossom showers, was delayed in some places in Hassan, while some parts of Kodagu have received good showers.

Appadurai said the gap in rainfall should not have any impact on the crop. However, the untimely staggered rains may result in an early harvest of Arabicas and Robustas in some regions that received rainfall in January and early February, Appadurai said.

In fact, the gap in rainfall did trigger concerns among a section of the growers. “Most of the growers are out of woods with these recent rains,” said Bose Mandanna, a large grower in Suntikoppa.

Growers estimate that the January and February rains could have triggered blossoms anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent of the coffee-growing areas.


No uniform blossom

“We needed this rain badly as the last rains were in February. As the February rains were too early for Arabicas, a lot of buds would have turned into shoots and resulted in vegetative growth,” said Shirish Vijayendra, a planter in Chikkamagalur.

As per the rainfall data from the Karnataka Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre, all three coffee-growing regions had surplus rains from January till date. However, there’s still deficit with the quantum of the pre-monsoon showers that start from March 1 till date. Timely pre-monsoon showers are crucial for the coffee to blossom and for setting of the crop.

“There is no uniform blossom this year due to the staggered rainfall. It is kind of a running blossom this year. These rains will help arabaica to blossom now in those areas which didn’t rains in February,” said UM Thirthamallesh, a grower in Hassan. A delay of couple of weeks is unlikely to have any impact on the harvest, he said.

Also, in the Wayanad region of Kerala, where mainly robusta variety is grown, the rains have been delayed this year. “But for some pockets in and around Kalpetta, we had first rains of the season last week, which is quite delayed,” said Prashant Rajesh, Wayanad Coffee Growers Association. Wayanad growers harvest coffee as early as December.

The untimely January-February rains have also raised the spectre of an early harvest in October for the crop year 2021-22 in those areas that received the early showers. Normally, the Arabica harvest begins from November, while robusta picking start from December. “Now with the global warming and early rains, the harvest is becoming little earlier,” Mandanna said.

India’s coffee crop for 2020-21 starting October was pegged higher at 3.42 lakh tonnes as the Coffee Board’s post monsoon estimates, higher than previous year’s 2.98 lakh tonnes.

Published on April 20, 2021

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