Sunday, April 3, 2016

Producing Baby Coffee Trees

3 months ago I planted dozens of freshly harvested coffee beans with the hopes that they would germinate. Success! They are starting to sprout. At the time I didn't have any flats/containers to plant the beans into, so I simply poked them in among the green bean seed that I planted for seed saving purposes. I figured that those green beans would be harvested just around 90 days, so the timing turned out to be perfect. When I removing the old green beans, I saw that coffee was beginning to show itself. 

This is the first time I've tried intentionally to grow coffee, so it's time to experiment a little. I know that coffee seedlings transplant really easily, but at what stage in their development? So I'm pulling some just as they sprout while others I'm waiting until the colyledons erupt from the seed case and flair open. I'm transplanting them into containers where they can grow until they start producing leaves. Why? Because I don't have spots quite ready for them yet. 
(Above the little seedlings I've gently dug up. Now they'll be just as gently replanted.) 

So what have I discovered so far? It seems to be best to wait until the colyledons open before transplanting them. Those that were still confined in the seed hull were slow to unfurl, and some never did unfurl. 
(Above, the cotyledons haven't erupted yet. You can still see the bean hull.)

All seedlings with the already opened codyledons transplanted ok and are doing just fine. Now, this is just opposite to what I've read on the Internet. Ag sites recommend transplanting the seedlings before the codyledons emerge. But this is the fun of experimenting. I find out what works for me, my technique, my location. But of course I have to keep in mind that my method might result in other negatives. Perhaps the seedlings won't thrive. Perhaps won't develop strong roots. Only time will tell. 

I plan to plant about 100 more trees onto the farm. They are a crop that I use for the shade areas, since I get few crops from the shade areas. The extra seedlings will be planted into pots and offered for sale as part of my farm income project. 

I want to show you what I found with some of the little seedlings which prompted me to discard them.......
They had bent primary roots. Coffee growers call these "J roots". I have read and been told that these seedlings do not produce strong, thriving mature trees. So I didn't bother transplanting these seedlings. They were just chucked aside to become part of the mulch. 


  1. Ah, the fun of a scientific experiment. You could postulate that the position of the bean affects the production of a straight seedling. Perhaps by looking at a bean, one could determine the blossom end, and plant it with that end pointed down, with a control planting of another row with that end facing up. (here's where it gets more nerdy) Try planting some with the beans lying on one the "seam" between the cotyledons vs. one side up. Which ones emerge first? Which one produces straight seedlings vs. hooked ones? (now you get your doctoral thesis if you carefully repeat the same series, to see if your initial findings can be replicated.) Of course, you could see if another nerd - er, scientific-minded seed-starter can reproduce those same results, say, by sending a small sack of green coffee beans to that inquiring mind to run those tests as well ..... Probably could get those Coffea Arabica beans through an ag inspection if they were properly packaged for scientific purposes. Just sayin'. [yeah, I missed April 1, too].

  2. You crack me up! Funny, funny, funny! You know, when I was back in college, there were people I knew there that actually thought along these lines. The perimeters for their experiments were a lot like your suggestions. Back then we didn't have the saying OCD, but they surely were.

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