Wake up and smell the coffee…Made in USA

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The coffee harvest is seen in this photo obtained by Reuters on September 20, 2021, at Hobson Family Farms, a partner of FRINJ Coffee, an American coffee producer in Ventura, California, United States. Reuters

September 22, 2021

Marcelo Goiano

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Farmer David Armstrong has recently finished planting what appears to be the family’s toughest crop ever since his ancestors began farming in 1865 – 20,000. Book the Coffee Tree.

He is based in Ventura, California, just 60 miles (97 km) from downtown Los Angeles, except that Armstrong is not in the tropics of Central America.

“All I can say is I’m a coffee farmer now!” He said after planting the last of the high-quality Arabica coffee, which had long been cultivated in the humid equatorial climate.

Coffee is mainly produced on the Coffee Belt, which lies between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. Here, countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ethiopia and Vietnam provide the best climate for coffee trees that require a certain amount of heat to survive.

Climate change is changing the temperature around the world. It is harmful to crops in many areas, but opens up possibilities in other areas. This includes California and Florida, where farmers and researchers are looking to grow coffee.

Armstrong recently joined a group of farmers participating in the largest coffee-growing initiative in history in the United States. Although the country is the largest consumer of the beverage in the world, it produces only 0.01% of the world’s coffee crops. This was all in Hawaii, other than southern Florida, one of only two states in the United States with a tropical climate.

Traditional coffee producers such as Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam are suffering from the effects of extreme heat and changing rainfall patterns. Botanists and researchers are trying to plant stronger crop varieties for some of the coffee-growing regions of these countries.

Top producer Brazil has experienced its worst drought in more than 90 years 28. It was exacerbated by a series of unexpected frosts, which damaged about 10% of trees and damaged coffee production this year and next.

Dream California

“We have reached 100,000 trees,” said the founder and CEO of Frin Coffee, a company that provides farmers interested in growing coffee in a partnership package that includes planting, post-harvest processing and marketing Said Jay Ruskey, the person in charge.

Russky says he started trying to plant coffee in California several years ago, but he talked little about it. He said in 2014 that he “came out of the closet as a coffee farmer.” At this time, Coffee Review, a publication that evaluates the best coffees each year, reviewed its coffees and gave its batch of Coffee Arabica coffees a score of 91. 100’s.

Fringe is still a small coffee company targeting high-end professional buyers. Fring sells 5 oz (140 g) bags on its website for $80 each. By comparison, a Starbucks Reserve 8-ounce package, the highest quality coffee sold by an American chain, retails for $35 each. Fring produced 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of dry coffee this year from eight farms.

“We are still young and still growing in terms of farmland and post-harvest capacity,” Ruskey said. “We’re trying to keep prices high and we sell everything we produce.” Ventures are already profitable,” he said.

Since then, the company has grown slowly, and Armstrong’s 7,000-acre (2,833 ha) Smith Hobson Ranch with Rusky is one of the latest and largest partnerships.

“I have no coffee experience,” said Armstrong, who grows citrus fruits and avocados, among other crops.

To increase the chances of success, he installed a new irrigation system to increase water use and planted trees away from previously cultivated fields.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, coffee uses 20% less water than most fruit and nut trees. After recent droughts and wildfires, California is running out of water. Many farmers are changing crops to meet the water shortage.

Giacomo Celli, sustainability director of Mercon Coffee Group, one of the world’s largest traders of green coffee, said the risk of growing coffee in the new region is high.

“It seems more logical to invest in new coffee varieties that can be grown in the same current region,” he said.

Florida Hope

University of Florida (UF) researchers are working with pilot plantations to see if the trees survive in the state as the climate warms in the southern United States.

Scientists move arabica coffee tree saplings grown in greenhouses outside, where they are exposed to the elements, threatening to kill the plants in the cold when winter arrives.

Diane Rowland, lead researcher on the project, said:

According to Rowland, researchers are planting coffee trees near citrus fruits. It is an intercropping technique used in other parts of the world as it helps to keep air to the larger trees and to shade the coffee trees.

But this project is more than just growing coffee. Scientists are also trying to improve the way they study plant root systems, said Alina Zare, an artificial intelligence researcher in the University of Florida’s Faculty of Engineering. As a result, it may help in the future to select the best coffee varieties for the region.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, long-term measurement stations in the southeastern United States had average annual temperatures at least 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) above average, more than half the time . in 2020.

Florida experienced record heat last year, with average temperatures of 28.3 C (83 F) in July and 16.4 C (61.6 F) in January. It is warmer than Brazil’s Baraginha region in Minas Gerais, the world’s largest coffee-producing region, with an average temperature of 22.1 C (71.8 F) in the warmest months and 16.6 C (61.9 F) in the coldest months. Is.

“We know that climate change makes coffee very hot, making it difficult to grow coffee in many parts of the world, which could make Florida an option,” Rowland said. ..

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira, New York, edited by David Gaffen and Matthew Lewis)

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