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HARVESTING

Coffee trees start fruiting three or four years after planting and bear in full after 6 to 8 years. They  continue  to produce good crops until  about their  twentieth  year, after  which  the yields  gradually  decline  and become unprofitable.  Soil exhaustion and erosion, as well as the general weakening of the trees’ health – especially of the roots – are the main causes of obsolescence.  Depending on the species, berries (also referred to as cherries) ripen after a period of 6 to 8 months for arabica and 9 to 11 months for robusta.

HARVESTING METHODS

There are 2 harvesting methods.  One is called strip picking and involves stripping the entire crop in one goes, irrespective of the degree of maturity of the cherries. The other method, known as selective picking, gathers only red, ripe cherries.  This exercise has to be repeated every 10 days until the whole crop has been gathered.

The  latter  method is,  of course, much more time  and labor  consuming  than the former,   but  optimizes   the  inherent   qualities   of  the  crop.  Selective   picking   is therefore   used mostly   for arabica,   especially   those to be wet processed.  Strip picking is limited primarily to robusta.