Machine harvesting Arabica coffee on Fazenda São Francisco just north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Most Arabica coffee is grown as shade plant at 3,500 ft. or higher in partially cleared tropical forest, but this area in Southern Brazil has a unique climate for this latitude that allows the coffee to be grown without shade as a continuous mono-crop and has allowed Brazil to dominate the global coffee market with over 36% of the production. The coffee trees are bourbon variety and grown without irrigation rows that are trimmed to allow for machine harvest, which is done at 100x the speed of manual harvesting and can harvest at night if necessary. They yield 1,400 60kg bags, from 20 hectares. The machines drive over the narrow rows of trees, with vibrating acrylic fingers that shake the coffee “cherries” loose and drop them onto a flexible skirt that goes around the base of the tree, and collects the fruit. The harvester can be adjusted to take the beans from different heights of the tree as the upper parts tend to ripen earlier, and the lower branches can be harvested on subsequent passes.
The rows of eucalyptus trees have been planted to act as windbreaks.
- ©2021 George Steinmetz
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