In March of this year Precious Timber started work on a new coffee seedling nursey at the El Refugio farm in Mombacho with the goal of generating a high-quality coffee producing enterprise. More than 250-acres will receive a comprehensive overhaul of existing Arabica plants together with the replacement of new Caturra and Catimore (Arabica) plants. Both the Caturra and Catimore seedlings are now developing well within the nursery and are scheduled to be planted in July. Certain older plants that show adequate production capabilities will remain while lesser quality plants will be removed and replaced.
The following are the steps we have undertaken thus far.
Step 1. Purchase the seed:
Step 2. Promote germination and plant seeds in our constructed nursery boxes:
To promote rapid germination the seeds are first submerged in water for 12 hours, and then removed from the water for an additional 12-hour period. This process allows the seeds to germinate prior to placing in rows in a bed of sand.
During the 24-hour germination period, the crews constructed a series of wooden frames that are filled with fine sand and top soil. This combination helps the seeds to develop their root system easier which helps the germination process.
Certified seeds soaking to enhance quality of germination. Seeds laid in soil beds.
Frames filled & ready. Sand and top soil is mixed to stimulate seed growth.
Step 3. Disinfection of the seeds in the nursery:
For disinfection of the seeds we are using certified “Green” environmentally friendly labeled products recommended by IPSA. In English this stands for the National Institution of Protection and Agricultural Sanitary. This procedure is undertaken so that our seedings are free of any diseases and/or fungus before they are transported from the sand and soils beds into their individual growing bags. The time in nursery frames will be four to six weeks on average.
The planted seeds are covered with mulch to hold in moisture.
Step 4. Sprout and Shade:
After a few weeks in the nursery frames the seeds begin to sprout their root system. Once sprouted, we keep them in the sand and soil frames for up to two additional weeks until they are strong enough to be hand-planted into individual growing bags. During this time the nursery receives daily maintenance, irrigation and cleaning.
Shade is provided to the new seedlings to reduce direct sunlight which allows for a stronger and earlier development of the plants. To keep the temperature of the sand and soil boxes as consistent as possible, straw is laid on the surface which reduces heat variations and moisture levels.
Sprouted Coffee Seed
Shaded seed beds with seedlings.
Step 5. Growing bag filling and extended nursery:
A staff of 18+ is needed to transplant the seedlings from the frames to individual growing bags in an efficient timeframe. More than 100,000 seedlings will be hand-planted into these bags this season. Each growing bag once opened is filled with an organic starter mixture and growing soil and each new plant will remain in these bags for an additional sixty days until they are mature and strong enough to be field planted.
During this period the staff will focus heavily on the field preparation, maintenance, disinfection, fertilization and irrigation to insure each new seedling has every advantage to grow healthy and strong during their first few weeks in field.
Bagging sprouts is a very labor intensive step.
Excellent Research and Technical Assistance has been Undertaken
Our goal is to produce quality specialty coffee beans, so no short cuts were allowed. We took the time necessary to surround ourselves with the best-of-the-best growers and experts in the region.The Agro-Vidas and RAMAC Group were invited to our farm and tasked with providing us with the latest growing techniques and secrets for this mid-altitude shade-grown facility. The tremendous advice they provided, coupled with the knowledge of our very own coffee expert, solidified that what we were doing was not only correct, but verified our decision to forego Robusta and focus on Arabica.
Coffee experts sharing techniques with our field staff.Their corporate coffee expert, Oscar Chávez Conejo, who has more than 30 years of coffee growing experience, is now welcomed to our farm on a weekly basis and acts as our second set of eyes and ears. He freely provides us with suggestions and recommendations about the correct methods and new techniques that will help us achieve optimal yield and quality. All of this is made possible through their COFFEE FRIEND program which is a resource that has helped guide our staff and will be of great benefit to us from planting to harvesting.
Some of our Coffee staff after a long hot day.
Making great new partnerships with coffee experts.