The blooming of white, fragrant flowers on coffee plants is the first step of a year-long journey. When their crops flower, farmers can start to determine potential productivity for that season, as the flowering nodes will subsequently develop into coffee fruits. Effectively, the more nodes and flowers that grow, the more cherries a farmer can harvest. Blooming seasons across the globe vary due to climate, but the timely occurrence of rainfall is a key stage in the seasonal life cycle of the coffee plant. However, thanks to increasing temperatures, unpredictable droughts, and erratic rainfall patterns, predicting the flowering season is becoming more of a challenge for producers.
Coffee trees start to flower an average of three to four years after planting, with the flowering phase lasting for approximately two to three months. Each flowering bud can develop up to four flowers, which grow in clusters along the axis (stem) of the leaves; when they bloom, they have a rich jasmine-like scent. Understandably, the flowering phase is vastly different from species to species. For instance, while arabica plants can self-pollinate, robusta plants rely on cross-pollination in order to grow. Robusta flowers also tend to be bigger and grow in larger quantities (around eight to 20 per axis, compared to two to 12 for arabica).
For flowers to grow, the plants first need heavy rain. A couple of weeks after the first rains of the season, the buds along the trees will start to flower. In most cases, workers will leave the farms at this point, as flowering is a very delicate process and the plants should remain undisturbed for optimum growth. About four weeks later, the scent of the flowers reaches its strongest in the “peak” of the flowering season. This is often considered something to celebrate among farming regions, as it only lasts for around three days before the flowers begin to fall to the ground. It is also a sign that the cherries are starting to develop. Some couples in coffee-producing communities even plan weddings at this time to capture the scarce beauty and rich aroma of the fields of white flowers. After the flowers fall to the ground, they leave behind a small round nub known as a “carpel”, which then grows into a cherry over the next few months.
Coffee fruit is produced in the new tissue formed in these carpels, so the flowers themselves can actually be harvested without affecting the growth of the fruit. In some cases, farmers have even used coffee flowers to diversify their incomes, as they can be used to produce tea and other beverages.
With more erratic rainfall, irregular blossoming patterns may occur. Flowers from the same trees or branches can be pollinated at different times, leading to varying levels of maturation. Consistently heavy rainfall or storm weather can even damage the plant. Consistency on the same plant is important. If producers have ripe and unripe – or healthy and damaged – fruits on the same branch, they would need to harvest them at different times. The producer would have no option but to pick the cherries by hand, a process that requires more time and labor. However, in some regions, hand-picking coffee cherries has become synonymous with a focus on quality, as it has the potential to guarantee better consistency. [Source]
|Device||Xiaomi Redmi Note 4|
|Location||Galle, Sri Lanka|
|Focal Length||3.6 mm|
|Flash||Off, Did not fire|
|Photo Credit||© @tanveer741|