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Fruit thinning and shade improve bean characteristics and beverage quality of coffee (Coffea arabica L.) under optimal conditions

Vaast P., Bertrand B., Perriot J.J., Guyot B., Génard M.. 2006. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, 86 (2) : p. 197-204.

Under two contrasting light regimes (full sun and 45% shade) and the optimal coffee-growing conditions of the central valley of Costa Rica, production pattern, bean characteristics and beverage quality were assessed over two production cycles on dwarf coffee (Coffea arabica L. cv. Costa Rica 95) trees with varying fruit loads (quarter, half and full loads) imposed by manual fruit thinning. Shade decreased coffee tree productivity by 18% but reduced alternate bearing. Shade positively affected bean size and composition as well as beverage quality by delaying berry flesh ripening by up to 1 month. Higher sucrose, chlorogenic acid and trigonelline contents in sun-grown beans pointed towards incomplete bean maturation and explained the higher bitterness and astringency of the coffee beverage. Higher fruit loads reduced bean size owing to carbohydrate competition among berries during bean filling. These results have important implications in terms of agricultural management (shade, fruit thinning, tree pruning) to help farmers increase coffee plantation sustainability, produce coffee beans of larger size and higher quality and ultimately improve their revenues, especially during times of world overproduction. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : espacement; biochimie; fruit; feuillage; photosynthèse; lumière; qualité; ombrage; coffea arabica

Thématique : Systèmes et modes de culture

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