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mar 05, 2018

Innovative technologies to improve coffee production in Espírito Santo

The south-eastern state of Espírito Santo is the second largest producer of coffee in Brazil, with a volume that varies between 11.58 and 13.33 million bags each year. These figures are set to increase further, after the development of two new technologies in the production of robusta coffee, headed by the State Secretary for Agriculture, Supply, Aquaculture and Fishing (Seag) and the Espírito Santo Institute of Research, Technical Assistance and Rural Expansion (Incaper).

The first of these advancements is the development of a new variety of cloned coffee plant, known as “Marilândia ES8143,” after the farm in which it was created. This new plant promises to be more resistant to drought and suitable for dry climates, as well as having improved vegetative qualities.

The development of this new variety came in light of evidence of climactic changes observed in the region over recent years, and the need to create a genetically improved plant which had a better tolerance to drier, warmer climates.

The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) has researched cloned coffee plants since the beginning of the 2010s – but most of these initiatives have been concentrated on producing new plants of Arabica coffee. These “clones” give coffee beans still taste just as good as the regular ones, but are more resistant to plagues and harsh weather conditions.

Marilândia ES8143 is proven to have an increased productivity of 17 percent in both normal and dry conditions, when compared to the variety of robusta coffee most commonly used today (Emcapa 8141), as well as an increased productive potential of 20 percent, according to Incaper data.

To complement the development of this new drought-resistant plant, Seag and Incaper, in partnership with the Marilândia town council and several other institutions, have also launched what they call the Jardim Clonal Superadensado de Café Conilon – the Super-condensed robusta Coffee Clone Garden – which will help accelerate the multiplication of these improved cloned plant varieties.

The project came as an attempt to improve upon the techniques of planting clone gardens which are already used by nursery gardeners, in order to speed up the multiplication of the new genetic material and reduce the area and costs associated with this type of practice.

As the name suggests, the Super-Condensed Clone Garden involves an increased population of plants in a smaller area (precisely, 31,250 plants per hectare), a reduction to the time required for seedlings to be produced (by over a year), and reduced maintenance costs for the clone garden as a whole.

Mauro Rossoni Junior, technical director of Incaper, believes that these new technologies mark the beginning of a new era for coffee production in Espírito Santo. "It allows rural producers to use genetic material which is more tolerant to drought, seeking to guarantee rural production,” he told SF Agro. "It also maximizes the profit of nursery gardeners in the planting of clone gardens."