For propagation of arabica coffees, ripe red cherries are collected , pulped, and the mucilage is removed by fermentation. The freshly picked seeds can either be planted immediately or dried for later use. Drying takes place on wire mesh trays in the shade. Dried seeds can be used up to a year or more if properly stored. Seeds are pregerminated by spreading on a sand bed and covering with moist burlap bag sacks or straw. The seeds are watched closely and removed as soon as radicals emerge. An alternative method is to mix the seeds with moist vermiculite or expanded polystyrene and keep in the polythene bag. Seedlings are grown in mursery beds or polybags and are planted in the coffee fields when they reach 20-40 cm.
Growing Seedlings in Nursery Beds
Once pregerminated, the seedlings are planted in nursery beds containing soil consisting of well rotted cattle manure (10-20 liters per meter) and phosphate fertilizer (100 g per meter). Nursery beds should be built to be 1 meter wide and 50 cm deep and seedlings are spaced between 12-15 cm apart (for 20 cm tall plants) or 20 cm apart (for 30-40 cm tall plants). The nursery beds are shaded 50% for the first couple months. Shading is reduced slowly and completely removed the last two months before the seedlings are planted.
Growing Seedlings in Polybags
Polybags, made of black diothene (200-guage), are commonly used and filled with a mixture of topsoil, well rotted cattle manure, course sand, gravel, coffee pulp, and coffee husks. A ratio of three parts topsoil to one part course sand and one part cattle manure is often used. A top dressing of nitrogen is applied by applying 20 g urea in 5.0 liters of water per meter of bed.