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bamboo guadua and coffea arabica

 
Zafra Miriam
Posts: 8
Location: Venezuela
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Hi all. We want to grow some coffee and get going quickly since the plants take a few years to start producing. We have an area with a lot of bamboo (guadua) growing and I wonder if the coffea arabica would do well as an understory there? I know it's often grown as an understory to many kinds of trees, but I can't find any mention of coffee growing with bamboo. Is this combo "contraindicated" for some reason? We're in Venezuela, mountains, subtropics. Any guidance will be most appreciated. Thanks!
 
Izzy Vale
Posts: 13
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The only thing I could think that would hinder the growing of coffee under bamboo is the intense nature of bamboo. Bamboo is incredible in how it can overtake an area. So competition might be a huge factor. It could be hard to harvest coffee in a thick bamboo forest, as well. These are just some thoughts, we have bamboo where I live, but not coffee.
 
Zafra Miriam
Posts: 8
Location: Venezuela
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Thanks Izzy. Acually guadua is clumping and our grove is well established. There are large spaces between the clumps that seem perfect for understory plants. What worries me is that almost nothing else is really growing there, which makes me wonder, is this because nothing can grow there? The bamboo sheds tons of leaves which carpet the ground making an amazing mulch, so I think either the mulch is so great that it prevents other seeds from getting established (while plants intentionally placed there would do fine), or the mulch is some kind of poison that inhibits anything from growing there at all. I've done a bunch of web research to no avail - was hoping someone with personal experience might chime in...
 
Izzy Vale
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Well, you can always ask around your country some. It doesn't seem like bamboo is poisonous to other plants, but I guess it could be. If you have some room to experiment you might as well try, if you have the resources it could be good to research it, and test it out. But if you only have a few coffee plants, and need them to grow, do some research in your country and find out if anyone has tried it. I'd think the old timers would know something like that
 
Tom Davis
Posts: 156
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If I remember correctly, bamboo has a lot of silica, which is why the dropped leaves are shiny. I had a lot of bamboo in an area, and the ground under it was often dry when much of the other ground soaked in the water. I think it causes a lot of runoff of the water, almost like placing a window on a patch of dirt, not much gets underneath it. Great for the bamboo, not so good for the other plants. So, I don't think it it poisonous, but my experience was I had to move the bamboo mulch, for anything to be successful underneath it. I put some squash, and lettuce near the bamboo, and the ones that were hard to get to did poorly b/c they were often dry and eventually got smoothered by the bamboo leaves. I gathered up the mulch and put it on places to smother things I didn't want. Seemed like a better option than carboard, since I didn't have to do any sourcing. Try it out, check under the mulch after a rain, not a deluge, i think you might notice it is pretty dry -- that was my experience anyway.
 
Zafra Miriam
Posts: 8
Location: Venezuela
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How strange - do you remember the kind of bamboo you had? The ground gets quite wet under the guadua leaves. I think we're going to have to just put a couple of plants in and see what happens. Thanks for the input!
 
Tom Davis
Posts: 156
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I don't remember, but no guadaua (sorry I forgot to read that).

This is interesting -- the abstract mentions 80 odd species of bamboo being tested
http://www.agrpaper.com/allelopathy-on-bamboo-leaves-and-isolation-of-allelochemicals-from-bambusa-ventricosa-leaves.htm

https://utextension.tennessee.edu/publications/documents/W220.pdf
"Many bamboo species produce
allelopathic compounds "

So, it seems the idea of poisoning is probably spot on for inhibiting germination of some seeds depending on the stage of development due to compounds the leach out of the "leaves" (I forget what they are really called), and ill affects for roots of some types of plants in the "rhizosphere."
Maybe try a few plantings with something for a rhizome barrier to keep out the bamboo as test?
Have fun!
 
Zafra Miriam
Posts: 8
Location: Venezuela
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Found it - the word allelopathy was the key. http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search/display.do?f=2010%2FCU%2FCU1025.xml%3BCU2009100974
Bummer. More research will be needed to see what might grow there anyway - there must be something with natural bamboo allelopathy resistance! Thanks a lot for the help.
 
Marc Troyka
pollinator
Posts: 357
Location: East Central GA, Ultisol, Zone 8, Humid
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Allelopathic yes, but not against all the plants they tested. Beans and corn there was no effect, and coffee wasn't on the list.
 
Zafra Miriam
Posts: 8
Location: Venezuela
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True. We might have to bite the bullet and do the experiment...
 
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