No 30

“El Niño” Leads to Forcast Better Coffee Harvest Levels

March, 2013


“El Niño” Leads to Forcast Better Coffee Harvest Levels

The Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Environmental Studies of Colombia      (IDEAM) predicted increases in temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which predict the presence of the “El Nino” phenomenon in the Colombian coffee zone.

The IDEAM established that there are great chances that due to an increase in temperature of the Pacific Ocean, the “El Niño” phenomenon will develop, with a (weak to moderate) intensity and pronounced effects in the first quarter of 2013.

These effects are contrary to the “La niña” phenomenon as shown below:


For the Colombian Andes, this implies lower rain levels, this means that more sunlight can be expected, which favors the photosynthesis process of the plant, therefore producing better harvest volumes. As has already been shown in January of this year with an increase in coffee production of   64%  compared with the same month last year. Also, less humid conditions reduce the impact and severity of rust fungus “Roya”, even though they increase other pests as the “Broca” bug.

The publication of IDEAM goes in the same direction of the last report of the Coffee Research Center,   Cenicafé, Entitled “climate behavior in the coffee zone 2012-2013”, which estimates a development of the “El Nino” conditions at the end of 2012, and during the first months of 2013. It also states that the probability of “La Niña” resuming its conditions is very low. Since Colombia, due to its geographical location, is vulnerable to climate variability, the Federation has insisted on the need to adapt and keep coffee farming always within the following three conditions:

  • Technically modernized (Coffee crops with at least 5,000 trees per hectare)
  • Young (Coffee crops that are productive according to their harvest times from 2 to 9 years)
  • Disease-resistant varieties (such as the “castillo” variety which is resistant to the rust fungus “Roya”)

Thus the Café de Colombia will be able to cope better with frequent weather changes.


It is worth remembering that the recent phenomenon of ‘La Niña’ brought one of the worst winter seasons in the country, increasing soil moisture and reducing sunlight, which drastically affected the coffee trees blooms and thus the development of coffee cherries. In addition, it spread the coffee rust infection “Roya” in the susceptible varieties, significantly reducing the size of the harvest.

It is gratifying to note that the purpose of converting coffee crops and adapting them to climate changes is showing excellent results. In late 2012 we managed to plant over 52%   of the planted areas of the country fulfilling the objective of keeping the crops young, technologically advanced and with varieties resistant to diseases. Figures that demonstrate the interest of the Colombian coffee growers to adapt their coffee production methods placing them in more efficient and autonomous levels.

Currently the percentage of rust infection “Roya” is only 5%, a much lower number than those reported in other Central American countries.

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