Coffee Nutrient Requirements

Coffee Nutrient Requirements

Two big yield limitations in coffee are:

  • low soil pH
  • Micronutrient deficiencies

Years of applying acidic fertilizers in conjunction with leaching have caused many soils in coffee growing areas in Kenya to become very acidic.  Low soil pH affects the crop in two ways:-

Reduced Fertilizer Efficiency

At low pH, fertilizers like Phosphorous (P) get bound into the soil complex.  At low pH the microbial activity that drives nutrient availability in the soil is reduced. Sometimes the cost of the lime application is paid back in just one year of savings due to better fertilizer uptake and higher yields.

Fertilizer Efficiency vs soil pH

fertilizer application in coffee kenya

Excess / Reduced Micronutrient Uptake

The pH of the soil determines which nutrients are available, at low and high pH certain nutrients become unavailable. At low soil pH, in high manganese soils, manganese becomes toxic to plants and causes a yield reduction, this is very common.

pH vs availability

micro nutrients for coffee plants

Micronutrients deficiencies, especially at flowering, can cause huge yield and quality reductions in your coffee.  Old coffee soil tends to be high in phosphorous and copper and low in other micronutrients. The phosphorous and copper can reduce the uptake of the other micronutrients. 

Coffee Leaf Analysis

Taking a leaf analysis pre-flowering will guide you in the correct foliar sprays to apply to the crop to boost your yields and discover any hidden deficiencies in due time for corrective action to be made.

Coffee Leaf Sampling

 Always pick the leaf samples in the region between the top most leaves and the bottom most leaves. 4-5 leaves per tree are always recommended. Always look for the most recent matured leaves.

Wise farmers invest in their soil – submit your soil for annual soil analysis to balance the pH and the nutrients.

Complete Soil Analysis

Coffee soil sampling & analysis helps in achieving the following:

  • To get proper fertilizer recommendations and application rates
  • Control the acidity levels in the soil through proper and timely liming
  • Increase coffee production.

Coffee Soil Sampling

Sampling depth of 20-30 cm is recommended. Soil sample should be taken just between the tree and the furthest coffee branch.

Coffee sampling Calendar

JAN FEB MARCH APRIL May JUNE JULY AUG SEP OCTBER NOV DEC
No Rain No Rain Little showers Rainy Rainy Good rain Good rain No rain No rain Rainy Rainy Little showers
Best liming time Good liming time           Best liming time Good liming time      
Best soil and leaf sampling time Good soil and leaf sampling time Good leaf sampling time         Best soil and leaf sampling time Good soil and leaf sampling time Good leaf sampling time    

Coffee planting guide