Made it back to the farm yesterday. Spring has arrived on the island, and the air is balmy and cool. The avocados and mangos are either in full blossom or have set fruit, and the beautiful Kona snow (coffee blossoms) has given way to tiny green coffee cherries. The trees are healthy and pruned.
During its childhood and adolescence, the young coffee tree directs all its energy towards growing wood, and its first harvest is abundant. As it matures, the tree grows tall (up to 15 feet), its branches become unwieldy and weak, and the yield drops significantly. To maintain its vigor and keep the tree at a height conducive for harvesting, we prune it back significantly every 4 years.
There are several techniques to prune coffee trees. With the Beaumont-Fukunaga method, the tree is cut down to about 2 feet every 4 years. In the intervening years, we thin out the old wood to promote good air circulation and allow the tree to focus growing energies to young fruit-bearing branches. The photo shows a row of trees that have been pruned back. Next year, the adjacent row will be pruned, and so on.