With the harvest completed at El Manzano and Ayutepeque, the first thing that begins very soon after at the plantations, is the pruning of the trees.
Typically, after a few crops, coffee trees will begin to lose their capacity to produce; necessitating a method of reviving the tree to full production. This method of removing old worn out branches and allowing for new growth is called pruning, and happens in a variety of methods, depending on the type of plantation, topography, age of the tree, variety, etc.
Within Finca El Manzano and Ayutepeque, several different methods of pruning are used.
One method, is called the stump system, or in spanish, recepa, where the entire tree is cut down, removing all branches and shoots at approximately one foot above the ground, leaving only the stump of the coffee tree.
The cut is made at a slight angle, and is done so in order to prevent water from accumulating at the tops of the stump, which would cause it to rot.
Another method, called hedging, is a method used to remove all branches that are unhealthy on the tree, while leaving the main stalk of the tree to continue producing. Branches are trimmed at approximately four to six inches from the main stem, and the tip of the tree is trimmed or left, depending on its foliage and health.
At El Manzano, trees are considered individually, and not typically pruned in rows, in order to maintain maximum productivity. Since pruning takes place immediately following harvest, many of the trees have already begun to bud, and therefore provide the indication for which trees are in need of pruning, and which ought not to be pruned. Most trees are pruned, depending on multiple factors, including health of the trunk, structure of the tree, and foliage of the branches.
An unhealthy trunk will typically bear evidence in dried or withered wood, and darker brown shades, while a poorly structured tree will have unequally distributed branches or little branches at all. Foliage of each branch out to also be equally distributed, and on trees where branches produce on its tips or base, pruning is common.
As these traits are noted in any of the trees, they are pruned, and often times, with a chainsaw, an unusual and new sound for the Santa Ana area. This pruning however, enables the tree to begin new and healthy growth, which will begin as early as one month after pruning, and will ultimately contribute to better production for as many as four or five years.