People we meet at our booth at the Keauhou Farmers Market (http://www.keauhoufarmersmarket.com) often ask us about the Kona Coffee growing season and harvest. A lot of it is elevation dependent – lower elevation farms tend to be drier and will typically have a harvest season that starts in summer (August) and often ends around Christmas. Farms at elevations similar to ours (~1900 ft) have a harvest season that starts and ends later (Sept to Feb) and upper elevation farms (>2300 ft) often can harvest all year round.

In the last couple of years we are seeing a trend of the Kona Coffee growing season and subsequent harvest seasons getting earlier. For example, the last couple of harvests at our farm have started in early August and been done by Christmas, rather than starting in September and finishing in February.

In general the kona coffee growing season follows the pattern: semi-dormant, rapid growth, flowering, bean development, harvest. The trees tend to go semi-dormant as the harvest winds down and the weather dries out. The trees get pruned to remove growth that would see a drop in production if allowed to remain. There are generally 2 methods of pruning that are commonly used in Kona. The stumping method, which removes all verticals at once and is also called the Beaumont-Fukunaga method (named for a couple of University of Hawaii researchers) or the “Kona-style” method, which only removes the older verticals. The basic idea behind both methods is to control the trees’ production by controlling the age of the multiple verticals on the tree.

kona coffee growing season stumped tree

Stumping method of pruning

The return of rain triggers the trees to flower and start a phase of rapid growth. When a tree has been stump pruned numerous new vertical shoots emerge all around the stump.

kona coffee growing season new verticals

New vertical shoot emerging from a stump

Flowering typically occurs a number of times and each “distinct” flowering leads to a different harvest. We try to quantify the amount of the farm that is flowering and the intensity in order to predict how much coffee each round of picking will be. Flowering occurs about 7-8 months before the bean is ready to harvest, so by recording the flowering dates we can also predict when the season will start and finish.

kona coffee growing season flower buds

Flower buds getting ready to open

They say after flowering the coffee fruit will develop into its full size within about 4 months. Over the next few months the fruit will reach maturity and ripen to a deep red color, at which time it is picked and pulped the same day. Then it will be processed further to get the bean (seed) that will be roasted.

And then the cycle starts all over again!

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