Shade effects on yield across different Coffea arabica cultivars — how much is too much? A meta-analysis

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The coffee research community has maintained a long ongoing debate regarding the implications of shade trees in coffee production. Historically, there has been contrasting results and opinions on this matter, thus recommendations for the use of shade (namely in coffee agroforestry systems) are often deemed controversial, particularly due to potential yield declines and farmers’ income. This study is one of the first demonstrating how several Coffea arabica cultivars respond differently to shade with respect to yield. By standardising more than 200 coffee yield data from various in-field trials, we assembled the so-called “Ristretto” data pool, a one of a kind, open-source dataset, consolidating decades of coffee yield data under shaded systems. With this standardised dataset, our meta-analysis demonstrated significant genotypic heterogeneity in response to shade, showing neutral, inverted U-shaped and decreasing trends between yield and shade cover amongst 18 different cultivars. These findings encourage the examination of C. arabica at the cultivar level when assessing suitability for agroforestry systems. Comparison of productivity is also encouraged across a range of low to moderate shade levels (10–40%), in order to help elucidate potential unknown optimal shade levels for coffee production.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalAgronomy for Sustainable Development
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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