Are you living in California and want to grow your own coffee plants? Or, do you want to know where it can thrive in the United States? The answers might surprise you!
Coffee mainly grows in tropical climatic zones and in areas with well-drained, rich soil. It also requires high altitude, temperature, and humidity.
Clearly, Texas is not the ideal state for growing coffee plants because of its sub-tropical climate.
Read on for details on conditions for growing coffee plants and states where it thrives!
- Is Growing Coffee In Texas Legal?
- Is Growing Coffee in Texas Worth it?
- 2 Best Places to Grow Coffee in the US
- Personality Thinking
Is Growing Coffee In Texas Legal?
Yes. It is legal to grow coffee plants in Texas. However, its climate does not support many coffee varieties. In fact, the only place researchers found ideal for growing coffee plants is in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the southern part of Texas.
However, growing coffee in Texas is yet to be commercialized. It is mainly grown on a large scale for research and educational purposes.
An attempt to find the best variety that can survive in Texas and resist the most common coffee diseases is ongoing.
Since growing coffee is legal in Texas, you can grow it in your backyard for personal use.
Is Growing Coffee in Texas Worth it?
Texas is not known as a commercial coffee producer in the United States. California and Hawaii are in the lead because of the tropical climate in these states.
So, is it worth growing coffee in Texas? Let’s find out!
Growing Conditions of Coffee
Coffee is mainly grown in regions near the equator. They include North, Central, and South America, the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia.
These countries and regions have one thing in common: tropical climate.
Coffee requires a warmer, cool tropical climate. The ideal places for growing coffee should also have high humidity, rich soil, high altitude, and alternating rainy and dry seasons.
Specifically, the coffee plant grows well in an area with an average daytime temperature of 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime temperature of 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The rainfall should be abundant, within the range of 100-200cm annually.
Coffee also requires high altitudes ranging from 600-to 1,800 meters above sea level. The soil should be rich, well-drained, and slightly acidic (pH of about 6.0-6.5).
Lastly, coffee does not require direct sunlight. Farmers grow the plants under shades of taller trees that don’t harm them.
Bananas and some leguminous plants are commonly used to provide shade.
Unfortunately, Texas lacks these ideal climatic conditions for growing coffee. Only a small coffee farm is in the Rio Grande Valley.
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Climate In Texas
The climate in Texas is mostly not ideal because of the high fluctuations. Summers are hot and humid, while winters are cold, dry, and windy. Coffee plants cannot tolerate extreme cold conditions.
The temperature in Texas can fall to 24 degrees Fahrenheit in winter and rise above 102 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.
The hot season starts in May and goes through to September, during which the temperature averages 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
The cold season in Texas is short. It starts in November and ends in February, with average temperatures below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. It is too long for the coffee plant to tolerate.
Overall, Texas has a subtropical climate with short bursts of cold air that can harm coffee.
Research Relating To Grow Coffee In Texas
The team leading the research on coffee growing in Texas is based at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.
One researcher named Dr. Juan Anciso planted 200 plants representing 40 coffee varieties grown in Central and South America and Africa.
The one-third acre coffee farm in Weslaco was put in place to maintain germplasm and readily provide plant materials needed by researchers.
The researchers were a dedicated team devolving solutions to farmers worldwide who face coffee rust.
Coffee rust is an airborne coffee disease that has caused devastating effects on farmers.
Texas A&M University System and the Borlaug Institute have collected plant materials to identify the most resistant coffee varieties to recommend to farmers.
Dr. Juan reported that all 40 coffee varieties grew well and produced impressive coffee beans.
In his comment, he said that it may be just a matter of time before coffee displaces cotton, citrus, and sugarcane plantations in Texas.
Best Climate for Growing Coffee
The ideal conditions for coffee growing are warmer, cool tropical climates and high humidity.
It also requires high amounts of rainfall. If you live in areas without favorable weather elements, consider growing coffee in a greenhouse or find a resilient variety.
2 Best Places to Grow Coffee in the US
Hawaii and California are the two states where there is commercial coffee growing. They have large farms that produce almost all US-grown coffee.
But what makes them ideal for coffee plantations?
Hawaiian coffee is praised for its rich flavor. Consumers and researchers attribute that unique taste to the favorable growing conditions in Hawaii.
Hawaii is made of many volcanic islands. The volcanic soil on these islands is well-drained and rich in minerals that encourage the growth of coffee plants and the formation of coffee beans.
Coffee plants require high rainfall, and rain is a common occurrence in the Hawaiian Islands.
The clouds are ever engorged with rain, which provides sun cover for the plants.
So, the high performance of coffee in this state is attributed to a perfect balance of rain, sun, low winds, and a favorable temperature.
Also, Hawaii has higher altitudes required for coffee growing. Its elevation may not be as high as in the main coffee-growing regions, but it is just enough to favor the plant’s growth.
Hawaii is the leading state for coffee production, responsible for about 0.04% of the world’s total coffee production.
In 1999, it had a peak production of about 10 million pounds of coffee beans. That was an all-time high.
Hawaii currently produces about 5 million pounds of coffee beans each year. According to the USDA report, about 6,900 acres of land are under coffee plantations.
The Arabica coffee variety is the most common in Hawaii.
Hawaii is not one of the world’s leading producers, and it may never be. However, it is still worth about $250 million.
The problems farmers face here include lack of enough rain in some seasons, coffee pests, and diseases. Coffee borers and beetles are the main threat because they damage coffee beans.
Climatic conditions in California are not as favorable for growing coffee as they are in Hawaii.
Farmers here rely on other methods to provide shade for the coffee plants, conserve soil moisture, and use irrigation when necessary.
Overall, Californian coffee is more expensive to produce. Fortunately, coffee beans from this state also fetch much higher prices. So, the demanding farming techniques are sustainable.
Farmers plant coffee between rows of avocado and passion fruits. These are the windbreaks that also provide shade.
That mixed cropping benefits farmers because they use their available land maximumly. Besides, the cost of land in California is higher than in Hawaii.
Since Californian coffee farmers do not rely on natural weather elements to grow their coffee, there are fewer coffee farms.
Coffee growing in California started in 2002, pioneered by a farmer and agronomist, Jay Rusky. He is currently the manager of Good Land Organics, the home of FRINJ Coffee.
As of 2021, the craft coffee movement has over 70 farmers with more than 85,000 trees in San Diego and other counties.
In 2020, FRINJ coffee farmers harvested 20,000 pounds of coffee berries. After processing, it translated to about 2,000 pounds of coffee beans.
That may not sound much, but it is a remarkable milestone in the coffee production history of California.
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So, what if you actually want to grow coffee in Texas? Why don’t we try? Texas doesn’t have the right climate for coffee. Why not create an ideal environment for coffee in Texas?
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Can I grow a coffee plant in my house?
Yes. Coffee can grow well both indoors and outdoors. So, you can choose whether to share your living room with it or grow it in your backyard, provided it is not in the area of direct sunlight.
How long does it take to grow coffee?
Coffee plants take between 3 and 4 years to mature and produce coffee cherries depending on the variety. The coffee cherries turn bright, deep red when ready for harvesting.
Can coffee grow in cold climates?
No. Freezing temperatures will ruin the plant, and cold ones can significantly reduce yield. Coffee plants typically require daytime temperatures of about 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit and slightly below that at night.
Coffee is not currently grown in Texas on a large scale. The small coffee farm in Rio Grande Valley is experiential and mainly used in research.
If you want to grow coffee in Texas, you can establish a greenhouse to provide favorable conditions. Alternatively, you can relocate to Hawaii or California.
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