Warm nights drive Coffea arabica ripening in Tanzania. uri icon


  • Studies have demonstrated that plant phenophases (e.g. budburst, flowering, ripening) are occurring increasingly earlier in the season across diverse ecologies globally. Despite much interest that climate change impacts have on coffee (Coffea arabica), relatively little is known about the driving factors determining its phenophases. Using high-resolution microclimatic data, this study provides initial insights on how climate change is impactingC. arabicaphenophases in Tanzania. In particular, we use generalized additive models to show how warming nocturnal temperatures (T-night), as opposed to day-time or maximum temperatures, have a superseding effect on the ripening of coffee and subsequent timing of harvest. A warm night index (WNI), generated from mean nocturnal temperature, permits accurate prediction of the start of the harvest season, which is superior to existing methods using growing degree days (GDD). The non-linear function indicates that a WNI of 15 degrees C is associated with the latest ripening coffee cherries (adjusted R-2 = 0.95). As the WNI increases past the inflection point of similar to 16 degrees C, ripening occurs earlier and progresses more or less linearly at a rate of similar to 17 +/- 1.95 days for every 1 degrees C increase in WNI. Using the WNI will thus not only allow farmers to more accurately predict their harvest start date, but also assist with identifying the most suitable adaptation strategies which may reduce harvest-related costs and buffer potential losses in quality and production.

publication date

  • 2021
  • 2020