Growers of arabica coffee fear damage to the quality of the crop as rains across key growing regions in Karnataka will likely impact the harvest of ripened beans.

Rains during the harvest period lead to fruit split on the plant and result in bean droppings. “As a result, the split arabica fruit cannot be pulped and made into parchment but has to be converted into cherry. This will result in a loss for the growers,” said Bose Mandanna, a large arabica grower in Suntikoppa, Kodagu. The arabica parchment coffee normally commands almost 40-50 per cent more than the cherry coffee.

“While the ongoing spell is hurting arabica growers, the rainfall is good for robusta variety as it is a kind of winter irrigation and also for upcoming pepper crop, which is in berry filling stages,” Mandanna said.

Relief to growers

Rains are taking place across the key coffee-growing regions of Kodagu, Chikkamagaluru and Hassan districts of Karnataka, which accounts for over 70 per cent of the coffee produced in the country. The harvest of arabica has started in those regions which received early blossom showers in January. About 30-35 per cent of the arabicas is ready for harvest or being harvested, Mandanna said.

The current spell of rains are providing some relief to the growers in the coffee region, which have witnessed a deficit ranging from 30-50 per cent this year. “If the rains keep coming in the days ahead, coffee drying gets delayed,” Mandanna said.

The early blossom showers in January for arabicas coupled with prolonged dry spells during the monsoons and lack of adequate rainfall this year has hastened the ripening of beans this year. “If the monsoon was good, the arabica crop would have taken longer time to develop and wouldn’t have come in early,” said Mahesh Shashidhar, chairman, Karnataka Planters Association.


“Like in the past couple of years, the rain is seen affecting the arabicas in lot of places. Due to the rains the early ripened arabica is seen splitting on the bushes and falling on to the ground. However, for robustas, these rains will be good,” he said.

HT Mohan Kumar, President, Karnataka Growers Federation, said the crop loss could be around 10-15 per cent in pockets where the crop has ripened. While rains across the key coffee-growing regions are likely to have a mixed impact, growers are concerned about the potential impact of any further continuation of rains. “There is a forecast that rains may continue over the next few days. If the rains continue, there may be a bigger impact,” Mohan Kumar said.

The state-run Coffee Board in its initial forecast has pegged the 2023-24 coffee crop starting October at 3.74 lakh tonnes, higher than the previous year’s 3.52 lakh tonnes.