Deficit monsoon is likely to impact the quality of the upcoming coffee crop for the new season beginning November, according to a BL report. Since the beginning of monsoon (June 1), coffee-growing areas of Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur in Karnataka, Gudalur, Yercaud and Palani hills in Tamil Nadu and Wayanad in Kerala are experiencing dry weather. Rainfall has been half the normal quantity this year during June. The dry conditions are likely to impact the quality of coffee and pepper plants. Besides, they could lead to a spurt in pest menace, noted the report.
'This is a crucial phase we (plantation belt) are passing through. Rains are required for development of coffee berry, flowering of pepper as well as to contain the pest menace,' Bose Mandana, former Vice-Chairman, Coffee Board and a senior coffee planter from Kodagu opined. June-July rains are crucial for coffee plants as they need water for fruit berry growth and to maintain its green foliage. Rains are also crucial for pepper plants. The catkin setting phase and flowering in pepper plants take place during monsoon, said the report.
'This year flowering of pepper is affected due to lack of moisture in the soil. This is likely to give rise to pest in pepper plants,' said Nishant Gurjer, Managing Partner, Sethuraman Estates, Chikmagalur.
Sahadev Balakrishna, Partner of Netraconda estate, Koppa in Chikmagalur told the daily: 'Insufficient rains are causing us lot of anxiety and affecting the environment and eco-system in the plantation belt. Annual rains rejuvenate streams, rivers and maintain the water table'.
Good rain is required to contain pests in the growing region. Incidents of white stem borer (WSB) and mealy bugs are being reported in major tracks. In WSB attack, the larvae bores into the stem causing death of young plants whereas the mealy bug damages coffee plants by sucking the sap from the tender parts, the report pointd out.
Gurjer said: 'Due to lack of moisture, pest menace is prominent in Arabica plantations this year. But Robusta area has been affected right from April (blossom phase)'.
'Due to lack of rains in the plantation areas, WSB menace has spread and we have issued advisory to growers to take precautionary measures,' Jawaid Akhtar, Chairman, Coffee Board is quoted as saying by the report. 'As for the monsoon rain, it is too early to forecast the crop. Since full two more months of rains is left, we need to wait and watch,' he said. However, Marvin Rodrigues, Chairman, Karnataka Planters Association, added: 'Lack of rains in June does not make any difference to the coming coffee crop (2012-13). But it is the pest menace and irrigation for the next crop cycle is what the planters are worried about'.