Increasing berry drop leaves coffee growers in Kodagu district in distress

After facing two tough years of devastating floods and landslips, Kodagu coffee growers’ difficulties haven’t stopped yet. Reports of berry drop have been the source of distress this year.

Continuous rains in some parts of Kodagu since the last week of June has led to berry dropping. Excessive drop will cause loss to the already troubled growers.

Fertilizer supply

The apparent short supply of fertilizers has exacerbated the problems of growers who were looking for manuring the plants during monsoon break. Manuring at this stage is expected to help plants fortify roots and lessen the drop. “Short supply of fertilizers and a liquidity crisis among growers has delayed application of manure,” a planter claimed.

Bose Mandanna, a leading planter from Suntikoppa and former vice-chairman of Coffee Board, said he noticed a change in rainfall pattern this year with monsoon being unusually fragmented. The monsoon has not evenly covered Kodagu and some areas received heavy to very heavy rains while others are getting less. This led to berry dropping, especially in Bhagamandala and Birunani areas, which saw heavy downpour, he explained.

Coffee berry dropping has occurred when there are nearly two months of rains left. “Berry dropping is not much in my area but is more in areas known to get heavy rains. It happens in my area too but it is yet to begin. In this condition, plants cannot sustain excess moisture, resulting in a condition called cold feet. Berries dropping to the ground can be reduced when nitrogen-based fertilizers are applied in the monsoon break,” Mr. Mandanna said.

Growing problem

In recent years, the problem of berry dropping in moisture-rich estates has become worse.

“I can attribute this to changing weather patterns. Some areas have experienced a cloudburst-like situation. The unevenly distributed rains are contributing to this phenomenon putting growers’ in jeopardy,” says M.C. Kariappa, chairman, Codagu Planters’ Association (CPA). He said the extent of loss cannot be estimated at this point.

Berry dropping has been reported from the estates between Madikeri and Bhagamandala, Birunani, Napoklu and Kakkabbe. Bhagamandala and Napoklu and their surrounding areas have been receiving incessant rains since the onset of the monsoon. Madapura, Surlabbi and Garwale areas also have reported berry drop.

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