Reuters This image, obtained by Reuters on September 20, 2021, shows the coffee crop at Hobson Family Farms, a partner of FRINJ Coffee, a company that operates a coffee production enterprise in Ventura, California, USA. FRINJ Coffee / Handout vi
By Marcelo Teixeira
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Farmer David Armstrong recently finished planting what is perhaps the most challenging crop in his family that his ancestors began cultivating in 1865 – 20,000 coffee trees.
Not in the tropics of Central America except Armstrong – he’s in Ventura, California, just 60 miles (97 km) from Los Angeles.
“My idea now is I can say I’m a coffee farmer!” He said high quality varieties of Arabica coffee have been cultivated in long lasting equatorial climates after planting.
Coffee is produced in large quantities in the coffee belt, located between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, where countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Vietnam have provided the best climate for coffee plants, requiring constant heat to survive.
Climate change is changing the temperature around the world. It is damaging crops in numerous localities, but opening up possibilities in other areas. These include California and Florida, where farmers and researchers are looking at coffee cultivation.
Armstrong recently joined a group of farmers involved in the largest coffee production effort in the United States. The country is the world’s largest consumer of beverages but produces only 0.01% of the global coffee crop – and it was all in Hawaii, one of two U.S. states with a tropical climate, including South Florida.
Coffee-producing coffee producers such as Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam are suffering from extreme heat and varied rainfall patterns. Botanists and researchers are looking for hardy crop plants for the coffee-growing regions of those countries.
Top producer Brazil is going through the worst drought in 90 years -28. This was compounded by a series of unexpected frosts, which damaged about 10% of the plant, which affected coffee production this year and next.
“We’re getting 1 million trees,” said J. Ruskey, founder and CEO of Fringe Coffee, which provides a partnership package to farmers interested in coffee production, including seedbeds, harvesting processing and marketing.
Rusky says he started planting coffee trials in California many years ago but told a few people about it. He said he only “came out of the closet as a coffee farmer” when Coffee Review, a publication that evaluates the best coffee per crop, reviews his coffee, giving his batch Ketura Arabica coffee a score of 91 out of 100.
Fringe is still a small coffee company that targets high quality special buyers. Fringe sells bags on its website for ০ 0 (grams0 grams). By comparison, the Starbucks (NASDAQ:) Reserve’s 8-ounce package, the top quality coffee sold by the US chain, sells for 35 35 each. Fringe has produced 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of dried coffee from eight farms this year.
“We’re still young, still growing in terms of farm, grain lifting capacity,” Rusky said. “We’re trying to keep prices high, and we’re selling everything we produce.” The initiative is already profitable, ”he said.
The company is slowly growing to partner with Armstrong’s 7,000-acre (2,833-hectare) Smith Hobson Ranch.
“I have no experience with coffee,” said Armstrong, who usually cultivates citrus fruits and avocados among other crops.
To increase his chances of success, he has installed a new irrigation system to increase water use efficiency and planted trees from parts of farms that have been damaged by frostbite in the past.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, coffee uses 20% less water than most fruit and almond trees. Water has become scarce in California following recent droughts and forest fires. Many farmers are changing crops to cope with water use constraints.
Giacomo Sally, sustainability director of Marcon Coffee Group, one of the world’s largest green coffee traders, said the risk of growing coffee in new areas is high.
“It seems more reasonable to invest in new coffee varieties that may be grown in the same current geographical area,” he said.
As the climate in South America warms, researchers at the University of Florida (UF) are working with a pilot plantation to see if the trees will survive in that state.
Scientists have just removed greenhouse-grown Arabica coffee seedlings in the open, where they will come in contact with the element, raising the risk of plants dying from the cold when winter arrives.
“This will be the first time they’ve been tested,” said Diane Rowland, the project’s lead researcher.
Researchers are planting coffee trees near citrus, an intercropping technique used in other parts of the world, because large trees help retain air and provide shade to coffee trees, Roland said.
The project, however, is more than coffee cultivation. Scientists are trying to improve how to study the basic mechanisms of plants, said Alina Zare, an artificial intelligence researcher at UF’s College of Engineering. This, in turn, may help to select the optimal coffee variety for this region in the future.
According to the U.S. Meteorological Agency’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, long-term measurement centers in the southeastern United States had an average annual temperature of at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) higher than the average in 2020.
Last year Florida experienced record heat, with average temperatures of 28.3 C (83 F) in July and 16.4 C (61.6 F) in January. It is hotter than the Virginha area of Brain, in the state of Minas Gerais, the world’s largest coffee-producing region, averaging 22.1 C (71.8 F) in its warmest months and 16.6 C (61.9 F) in winter.
“With climate change, we know that coffee cultivation in many parts of the world will be difficult because it is going to be very hot, so Florida could be an alternative,” Roland said.