Coffee growing is an activity that is sensitive to climatic variations, and rainfall plays a fundamental role in its development. Its impact on coffee production is profound and covers several stages, from planting to harvesting. Let’s explore how rainfall can be beneficial or detrimental to coffee growing, based on 2023 conditions in Brazil.
Drought vs. excess
Periods of intense drought can negatively affect a coffee plantation in a number of ways. Lack of rain results in low branch growth, yellowing and leaf fall and decreased plant vigor, these are some of the factors that impair flowering and fruit formation and consequently affect production. Water scarcity is a constant concern for coffee producers, so management and irrigation strategies are essential to mitigate the damaging effects of drought.
On the other hand, excessive rainfall also brings with it a series of challenges. When the start of flowering coincides with a period of continuous heavy rain, the flower buds tend to remain dormant for longer than normal. This delays the opening of the flowers, and in many cases, the buds end up falling off before they open, or the flowers can be deformed, resulting in malformed grains.
In addition, excess moisture in the soil makes it difficult to carry out cultivation and control diseases such as rust, due to the complexity of carrying out effective spraying. Diseases such as pink disease and roseliniosis can also proliferate due to excess moisture in the soil.
Flowering 2023 in Brazil
As we’ve already covered in this article, flowering is a critical time in coffee growing. Without adequate rainfall, the fruit sets poorly. In 2023, Brazil received a significant amount of rainfall in July and August, anticipating flowering. However, after this phase, it is essential that there is a period of rest between flowering and the appearance of chumbinhos (small beans) so that the plant recovers and the fruit develops in a healthy way. Once again, this was the case in Brazil, when there was a period of little or no rain in September in certain coffee-growing regions, just after the significant rains of the previous months.
Bean Development: The Crucial Role of Rainfall
After flowering, the bean development phase is critical for coffee quality. This takes place over a period of months, with a special emphasis on January. During this period, significant rainfall is essential for the beans to increase in size, favoring the beans in terms of screen size.
On the other hand, excessive rainfall can get in the way: it should be noted that coffee plants are highly sensitive to oxygen deficiency, meaning they require well-drained soils. Therefore, excessive rainfall causes the spaces in the soil to be occupied by oxygen to be filled with water, so there can be an oxygen deficiency for the roots which, depending on the type of soil, causes an energy deficit for the plant. This energy deficit leads to problems with branch growth and fruit filling, with losses in terms of screen size.
At harvest time, large amounts of rain can cause the coffees to fall and ferment when they come into contact with the soil, damaging the quality of the drink.
Finally, there are the logistical problems. Roads can be badly damaged by the rains, especially in regions with rugged terrain such as the Matas de Minas.
Rains: Allies or Enemies?
In short, rainfall plays a fundamental role in coffee growing, but its impact can vary according to the volume and the season in which it occurs. Well-distributed rainfall at the right time can bring significant benefits, boosting healthy coffee production. However, extreme weather conditions can cause unforeseen challenges.
Therefore, coffee producers are constantly on the lookout for weather conditions and seek strategies to mitigate the risks associated with rainfall. Careful water management and an understanding of climatic nuances are essential to ensure the production of high-quality coffee in such a dynamic environment.
Check out the results from the first group of coffee growers of the Project Mutua – Forests and Springs, an Atlantica Coffee initiative to boost sustainability and positive impact coffee growing. Click here to read.
*This article aims only to provide information about the impacts of weather, based on internal and public sources, valid at the time of its dissemination. It does not aim to guide recipients in making any decisions, which are therefore solely the responsibility of the recipient. Atlantica Coffee is exempt from any liability arising from direct or indirect losses.