Germination bed (primary) Seeds are sown in raised seed beds (15 cm above the ground level) provided with proper drainage prepared out of soil, compost and sand at 6:2:1 proportion. A bed of 4 x 3 m will be sufficient for 1.5 kg of seeds, if sown 1.0 to 1.5 cm apart in rows, with the flat side of the seed towards the soil. A thin layer of soil is spread after sowing and covered with dry straw to a thickness of about 5 cm to ensure uniform temperature and to regulate moisture retention.
Sowing is to be taken up in December-January for arabica and in February-March for Robusta. Watering of the seed beds is to be done twice a day in the initial week and thereafter regulated. The seeds sprout in about 40 days when the straw mulch is removed. The primary beds are provided with pandal covered with coir mats or dry leaves.
Polybag (basket) nursery Seedlings from germination beds are transplanted to polythene bags in Feb-March when they are at the ‘button’ stage. Polythene bags of 23 cm x 15 cm and 150 gauge thickness with adequate number of holes of 3 mm in the bottom half of the bag are preferred. The bags are filled with prepared mixture of 6 parts of sieved jungle soil, 2 parts of well rotten sieved cattle manure and 1 part of fine sand.
The prepared mixture is thoroughly mixed and slightly moistened with water to facilitate packing. The soil is filled into the nursery baskets and pressed firm. Nursery baskets are arranged conveniently in rows of 10 within a rectangular frame with bamboo reapers. These frames are held in positions with bamboo or wooden props driven into the ground at suitable distance.
Coffee seedlings at the button stage are transplanted into nursery baskets. The seedlings are gently lifted from the germination beds with minimum injury to roots. Prior to transplanting, the nursery basket is watered and a vertical hole of 5 cm deep is made in the soil at the centre of the basket. At the time of transplanting it is preferable to slightly nip off the taproot of the seedling.
The taproot and the feeder roots should be so disposed as to enable the plant to strike roots and make firm growth as quickly as possible. The shoot portion of the transplanted seedling should be at the same height above soil level as it was in the germination bed. Transplanting is done preferably in the early morning hours or late in the afternoon. Seedlings uprooted from the primary bed should not be stored for a long time but transplanted immediately.
Regular watering and aftercare of the seedlings should follow. Excess moisture and watering in the afternoon should be avoided as it may induce damping off.
Aftercare of seedlings Seedlings are to be manured once in two months with urea dissolved in water or supernatant solution of fermented cowdung slurry. For an area of 1 m2, 20 g urea dissolved in 4.5 litres water is sufficient. Adequate protection is given against nursery diseases and pests.
Overhead shade in the nursery has to be thinned and finally removed after the onset of monsoon (this is not applicable to northeastern areas). The seedlings grow vigorously if watered judiciously and protected against afternoon sun.