Ms Wander R. Gomes¹; Gilberto M. Tessaro²; Ms Jeferson P. Ferreria²; Ramon Calixto.² ¹- Cooabriel’s Agronomist and Technical Support Manager ² – Cooabriel’s Agronomists
The economic and political crisis is very clear in Brazil and the whole society is aware of this situation. However in Espírito Santo and southern Bahia agricultural scenery, the challenge is even greater, because of the drought. Farmers that had already suffered heavy losses in the 2015 harvest, now face an even worse situation for the 2016 harvest and are also expecting losses for the 2017 one because of the low levels of rainfall in recent years.
For the past four years rainfall levels were much lower than the historical average in virtually every coffee producing county where COOABRIEL operates. According to data collected by INCAPER, from January 2012 to December 20, 2015, the city of Nova Venecia (ES) alone had a deficit of 435 mm / per year, totaling 1740 mm in the period. In the last two years (Jan / 2014-20 Dec / 2015), the situation got even worse because it rained only 507mm / per year when it was expected 1156 mm / for the year, amounting to a deficit of 1,298 mm on the historical average for the years of 2014/2015. This, well below than needed rain volume, lacks the capacity to replenish groundwater and the supplying water sources.
In order to develop and apply technologies that reduce environmental impacts and make coffee growing more profitable to its associates, Cooabriel offers technical assistance programs throughout the Northwest and parts of Northern Espirito Santo and Southern Bahia going all the way to Camacã.
In 2015, our technical team closely followed 2,510 producers that together cover an area of 16 272 hectares of coffee plantation, and found a bleak situation. Among all the factors that compromise the 2016 harvest we list below the most critical ones, such as:
1 – The canopy in the flowering: because of the well below rainfalls in the 2014/2015 crop year, the branches growth were lower than expected.
2 – The flowering : At this stage there were good flowering occasioned by the low-intensity rains that fell in the period and also by irrigation done on time, not compromising until now the 2016 harvest. The problem came with the later flowering (those from the tips of the branches that produce the final flowers). In these, the losses were much more intense due to high intensity of light and the highest temperatures in recent months.
Non or poorly irrigated crops, had a great flowering until the month of November which is a very unusual fact for Conilon, and will make the latest blossoms obsolete, because there will be no time for proper grain formation until the harvest.
3- The reservoirs : With the low rainfall in the last four years, some producers have no water since August, but the problem was actually intensified in the month of October as rains did not come with enough volume to replenish the reservoirs. With higher temperatures, the water stored in the reservoirs, streams, and rivers dried up, and the water crisis showed its face and came bringing losses, which are likely to be more intense in 2017.
4 – Grain Growth: This phase that usually started from October to mid-December, was impaired, because without rainwater or irrigation the plant can not provide a good grain growth, in some of the crops there are still grains in the pellet phase, specially those crops irrigated by systems located in the first crop branches or first harvest crops.
5 – Grain Filling: This phase usually begins in mid-December and lasts until February. With the lack of water, the graining was impaired, resulting at best in light or malformed grains or “chochos” grains. The high temperature and direct sunlight, damaged the normal grain growth and caused these grains to fell off.
6 – Pest : The attack of the rosette caterpillar was intense and widespread. It was probably caused because the flowers were attached to the branches for a longer period, and on some crops, this attack resulted on considerable losses. The rosette of cochineal apperead later on, in late November and December, caused by the longer pellet phase of the grain and by some early rains. These two pests contributed to significantly reduce the amount of grain in a plant, and thus lowering productivity.
7 – Rainfall : Some producers perform rain measurements on their properties, and according to reports tto our technical team, there is a large discrepancy in the distribution of rainfall between locations. There are places where the November rains were more than 200mm, and on properties located only 40 km away that volume was less than 10mm until 12/30/201 . This is a very uneven rainfall, which causes damage that is difficult to be measured .
In short, we already know that the 2016 Conilon harvest, will be less than the expectation raised in August of 2015, because of all the things mentioned above. Although early, we estimated a loss of approximately 20% to 25 % until December 30, 2015, for the 2016 crop of Cooabriel associated producers. However, the more severe water problem will be felt now in the grain filling phase that occurs in the months January and February. There is no water to irrigate, and this really worries us, because we are now at the mercy of rain and other environmental conditions, so that we can save the coffee beans that are still on the plant. It is clear that the development of the canopy for production in the 2017 harvest was affected, and the loss will be greater than 30% and, in some crops greater than 70% , according to our technical field advisers.