t>o rejected as incorrect and interpreted as evidence of omissions in the
VITAL STATISTICS. 117
birth records. In nearly all Countries omissions of births occur much
more frequently than oini>>ion- of deaths. The birth rate in Arecibo
and Mayaguez is higher than elsewhere, a condition -which leads one
a<fain to suspect that the figures for Mayaguez are probably more
accurate and careful than those kept by the other departments. Much
the lowest birth rate in the island is found in Bayamon.
It is probable that the proportion of children under 5 in 1899 to the
total population would vary from department to department in rough
agreement with the variations in true birth rate during the preceding
years. That they do not thus vary is indicated by the following list:
I>> i>nrtments arranged in the order of
Increasing proportion <if j>'>/iuIntioH, O-4: Increasing birth rnti-. if:<i.~>-i898:
From these figures one's belief is strengthened that the differences
in birth rate and death rate are due primarily to differences in the
accuracy of registration rather than to differences of actual rate.
MARRIAGES AtfD MARRIAGE RATES.
The proportion of marriages to population in Porto Rico, is so low
as to make the figures insignificant. One notices from the table (p. 113)
that marriages were apparently much more numerous during the years
from 1890 to 1895 than during the two years before or after that tune.
This may be an indication that the economic conditions on the island
were somewhat worse during the earlier and the later parts of the
eleven-year period than they were in the intervening time, but beyond
this scarcely any inferences from the table seem warranted.
In the following table the departments are arranged in the order of
the average marriage rate for the eleven j r ears, and in the second col-
umn the proportion of white to the total population is stated:
It will be noticed that, with a slight exception in the case of Guayauia,
the two columns vary concomitantlv. This confirms what was also
shown by the figures for marital condition, that lawful marriage ii
much more common among the white population than among the colored.
While agriculture is now the principal source of wealth to Porto Rico,
the early settlers were for many yours engaged in cuttle raising, and
this is still an important industry, the rich and luxuriant pastures and
many streams providing all that is necessary for this purpose. It may
be said that all fruits and vegetables adapted to a tropical climate will
yield abundantly in Porto Rico, and this is especially true of the coffee
tree, the sugar cane, and the tobacco plant, the three staples of most
importance in the order named, and grown widely over the island.
The following reports, prepared especially for the census by Sefiors
M. Badrena. supervisor of the department of Mavaguez: Ricardo
Hernandez, supervisor of the department of Bayamon. and M. Pla-
nella, of Cayey, give interesting facts concerning the history and culti-
vation of coffee, sugar, and tobacco. They are printed substantially
Report of St'iior RICARDO HERNANDEZ.
"The coffee plant is a shrub 2 or 3 meters high with permanent leaves.
a delicate, flexible-trunk of some <> centimeters in diameter, with oppo-
>ite and alternate ramifications forming CToaaes. It generally bifur-
cates at the surface of the ground, giving the appearance of two or
three plants being joined together. This is due to the fact that each
grain of coffee gives origin to two plants. The system of cultivation
has limited the development of the height to the point above indicated.
but in Arabia and in some parts of America whore the tree is allowed
to grow f reel \ . the coffee becomes a thick tree with sharp lanceolate
erect leaves, dark green in color, permanent, thick, and smooth.
''The blossom of the coffee is white, fragrant, and resembles the jas-
mine blossom, with five stamens grouped together and implanted in
the axila of the loaves; tubular corolla, small globulous calyx with live
"The fruit is oblong, fleshy, resembling the cherry, bright green in
color, which on ripening turns to an intense red. and contains in the
interior the seed composed of two coriaceous plano-convex discs, so
firmly united at their plane surfaces that they sometimes break before
"The cofl'ee has a central or tap root which penetrates the ground
about so centimeters, and also many secondary rootlets near the
CULTIVATION OF COFFEE. 119
"In Porto Rico the select and renowned coffee is produced between
200 and 800 meters above the sea level. At this elevation are found
the towns of Yauco, Lares, Maricao, Utuado, Cayey, etc., which
form the productive region of the renowned coffee of Porto Rico.
Tliis region, which includes something more than the southwest quad-
rant of the island, is characterized by a climate of perpetual spring.
The constant breeze refreshes the atmosphere and the frequent rains
equalize the seasons so that not even in times of drought does the vege-
tation suffer as occurs on the southern coast of the island, nor during
the rainy season are the rains so heavy as on' the north coast. Owing
to these favorable climatic conditions and to the fact that the coffee
groves are situated in valleys sheltered from the strong winds, and the
soil, of which we will presently speak in detail, is due the enviable
reputation of the coffee of the country.
"In the central range of Porto Rico is the Sierra Luquilla. which
has an elevation of 1,500 meters above the level of the sea, and it is
observed that above the middle height of this mountain coffee groves
do not exist. Whether owing to the climate or to the soil, which may
be unsuitable, where only grow some shrubs in thickets and some
worthless herbs, it is true that after 800 meters have been passed the
coffee is not seen, and all attempts to grow it at that altitude have
been without results.
"Coffee growers modify the climate by employing shade, that i.s.
they plant their coffee groves beneath the shade of a grove of thick
trees, a.s. for example, the hucares, guaha, jobo, guama, mango, etc.,
and under the banana trees when the coffee groves are young.
"The coffee grows on hills of low elevation, associated with many
other trees, which afford shade, modify the temperature, and protect
the coffee from the hurricanes and torrential rains.
"The composition of these coffee soils is variable, but in all of them
sand predominates and on the surface there is an abundant covering
the product of the decayed vegetation of the forest.
"The land which produces the renowned coffee of Porto Rico, as to
its physical appearance, seems to be a very tine clay, and when it rains
becomes as slippery as soap, and transit at such times is dangerous.
It has a red color when moist, and when squeezed through the fingers
resembles in its color and smoothness the oxide of iron paint, but when
dry it becomes very hard.
120 REPORT ON THE CENSLS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
CULTIVATION OF COFFEE.
"The method employed in Porto Rico and other points for the grow-
ing and multiplication of coffee, by utilizing the plants which spring
up from the seed which falls alone or is lost at gathering time, must
be superseded by another method more certain, employing seed set
apart for the purpose.
"In order to make seed beds, a place is selected with a slightly
inclined surface, or at least one which will not become swampy or
muddy and which has a good layer of vegetable soil, and it is worked
or spaded until the same is well pulverized. It is cleared of all roots,
stones, etc., and if the land be not sufficiently fertile it is enriched
with common barnyard manure. After this has been done, in the
month of February, the sowing takes place, for which purpose coffee
grains in the berry or husk are selected which can be seen to have
unusual size and weight, and which give signs of being perfectly
formed, and they are planted at a depth of 3 centimeters. The
grains are planted with the finger, or, as is more convenient, with a
stick, and after being placed in the hole are covered with earth, which
is pressed down with the hand. The planting should be in rows sepa-
rated from each other a distance of about 15 centimeters, and the dis-
tance between each planted grain should be the same. In about
twenty days the new coffee plants will commence to spring up, and
they are allowed to remain for a year or a 3*ear and a half, when they
will have acquired a height of about 80 centimeters or have three
crosses, at which time they may be transplanted to the site determined
upon for the coffee grove.
"The care of the seed beds during this time is limited to clearing it
of weeds and taking measures to prevent the winds from injuring the
tender plants, because if they are seen to turn black or take on a burnt
color the center or stock of the little plant will cease to grow. They
may be protected from the winds by making palisades or shelters of
boards, palm leaves, cane, bamboo, etc.
" When the small plants have acquired the height indicated, the lower
and middle branches are cut off, leaving only the cross branches in
order that the trunk may grow straight and clean, and its top or
branching commence at the height most convenient for the work of
gathering the crop.
"Some days after this pruning the trees are taken up from the seed
bed, using for this purpose a narrow spade, which is thrust into the
earth near the foot of the tree to a depth equal to the length of the
roots, and then by gently employing the necessary force, the tree is
taken out with all its roots intact, and with a clod of earth which it
is necessary to preserve, so that the- roots may remain covered and
a new rooting when transplanted.
CULTIVATION OF COFFEE. 121
"When the trees taken up have very long tap roots, say of 20 cen-
timeters, it is well to cut off the lower half with a pair of scissors.
' ' The first necessary condition which land intended for a coffee grove
must have is that it be protected from the full force of the constant
and tempestuous winds; thus ravines, points protected by a mountain
or masses of vegetation, those exposed to the south, etc., possess these
conditions. The land must also be sloping or high, so that the rains
shall never form pools or mud holes.
"The preparation of the land consists in the labors necessary to pul-
verize the ground, turn the earth over, thoroughly cleaning it of roots,
stones, etc., and making the holes which are to receive the young
"The planting or setting out of the plants is done in the following
"On the land plowed and cleaned equidistant lines are marked out,
2 meters from each other, and along this line, at intervals of 2
meters, holes are dug 45 centimeters long, 45 centimeters wide, and
45 centimeters deep. The superficial earth is placed to the right of
the hole, and the lower earth, or subsoil, to the left, the latter being
thoroughly mixed with a kilogram of barnyard manure.
"Eight days after 'the holes have been dug the plant is set out, being
brought from the seed bed in baskets, the roots wrapped in bark and
banana leaves and covered with damp coffee sacking, and then the
laborers proceed to set out the plants. One man takes the plant and
places it in the hole, throwing in first the earth on the right-hand side
of the hole that is, that portion of earth taken from the surface,
which, being richer, is best to place next to the roots and then the
hole is filled with the remaining fertilized earth, tramping it down in
the hole in order to make it firm.
"Three or four months after the first planting it is necessary to,
replant that is, to set out trees in those holes in which the first plant-
ings did not live taking care that the new trees have the same size as
the others in order that the entire grove nmy develop and grow
"The coffee groves situated on level lands, or those but slightly in-
clined and in .situations which permit the employment of oxen, ought
to be worked with the plow, giving it two plowings a year, the first
after the replanting and six months later the second, selecting such
times for this operation as will find the soil fresh and moist.
"If, owing to the condition of the ground or on account of its incli-
nation the plow can not be used, the coffee grove must b worked by
122 REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
hand, and the hoe employed for this purpose should penetrate 30 centi-
meters into the ground: and as this work is expensive, it is done hut-
once a year, in the month of December.
"The coffee, like all trees intended to hear fruit, requires pruning.
If the excessive, badly calculated pruning which has been practiced in
Cuba has been prejudicial, the abandonment of these groves to spon-
taneous development, to which they have been left in Porto Rico and
other points, has also worked injury. If we consider the tree as a
machine destined to give fruit and produce forced profits, its growth
must be regulated and its organs prepared.
"The coffee tree should be pruned from the time it is 3 \ r ears old,
counting from the time when the first pruning gave shape to the tree.
This operation consists in cutting away during the third year the first
crosses above the roots in order to commence the formation of a clean,
strong, straight trunk. The fourth year, the fourth and even the fifth
cross is removed for the purpose of preparing the final and only cross
of the tree, which is to serve for the woody branches and for the for-
mation of the top. During the fifth year the center is cut in order to
restrain the longitudinal growth of the tree, and leave the cross at the
height of a meter and a half, which is most convenient afterwards when
gathering the fruit. If the tree should be allowed to grow taller the
gathering would be difficult, and if it should have a lesser height it
would reduce the body of the tree and diminish the productive zone.
"In addition to the formative prunings which terminate during the
fifth or sixth year an annual pruning is necessary, which is intended:
" First. To make the grove render the largest possible amount of
fruit; and in order to secure this result it is necessary to cut off the
old branches, or those which have exhausted their capacity to bear
fruit, in order to give the tree the necessary light and ventilation.
" Second. To suppress the suckers which absorb the sap and give no
fruit; to cut the sprouts from the foot of the tree and also from the
trunk and those which grow among the branches in unsuitable places;
to suppress crooked and badly placed branches, those that may have
been broken by storms, in the gathering of the fruit, or those which
may have been broken by the excessive weight of the fruit.
'The pruning is done after the harvest has been collected that is, in
the months of December and .January and a saw should be employed
for the thick branches, and limbs over an inch and a half in thickness
should scarcely ever be cut off. For the slender branches and sprouts,
a sharp cutting machete should be used, always making clean cuts
close to the limb, covering the wound with some sort of grafting wax.
CULTIVATION OF COFFEE. 123
" Hoeing is for the purpose of freeing the ground of pernicious vege-
tation. In Porto Rico, Cuba, and many other places this operation
is usually performed by cutting awa} T the growth with blows of the
"The hoeing in the improved cultivation is not performed in this
manner, because by. the following month, in tropical regions, the
pernicious vegetation has again grown up, owing to the climate, tem-
perature, and humidity. The cleaning must be done with a hoe, dig-
ging well into the ground and causing the pernicious plants to dry up
even to the roots. This is the way to destroy this vegetation in a few
years and also benefit the coffee trees and enrich the ground.
1 "If in the month of January the hoeing or plowing was done, of which
mention has already been made, it will not be necessary to weed the
ground again until the month of April, when the coffee grove is in full
bloom. This work of weeding, in addition to destroying the weeds
which absorb the strength of the ground, also loosens the soil which
aids the bloom and assists in the development of the fruit. Another
weeding, although more superficial, should be given in August in order
that the fruit may receive the benefits which the blossoms received as
before mentioned, and so be nourished and acquire additional weight.
" The coffee blooms in February and March and the fruit is gathered
in October and November. It can be readily seen how long the tree is
engaged in reproduction, and during this time is exposed to rains
which soak the pollen of the blossoms and render them sterile, to the
winds which shake the fruit, to the sun which dries it up, to the birds,
insects, and accidents which destroy the product of the grove.
"The gathering may be performed in the following ways:
1. By hand, gathering the berries one by one, placing them in
baskets, sacks, etc.
2. By shaking the tree, causing the ripe fruit to fall by a gentle
motion, and then gathering the berries from the ground.
3. By spontaneous falling, waiting until they by natural processes
fall to the ground.
"The first process is the one employed in Porto Rico, Cuba, and other
places. It is the most reasonable, perfect, and proper, but it is neces-
sary to have command of a sufficient working population, as it calls
for numerous hands. Each person can or ought to gather &fanega l in
[ A.fanega is about 100 pounds.
124 REPORT ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
"The coffee from the time it is gathered until sent to market goes
through eight delicate processes or operations, on which depends the
commercial value of the grain.
"1. The most primitive method of hulling consists in putting the
coffee into a wooden mortar and with a hard, heavy wooden pestle
pound it long enough to loosen the hull of the coffee, green or* dry.
according to the plan adopted.
"2. The coffee, after being hulled green, remains covered with a
mucilage that must .be removed, for which purpose the grains are
washed in ordinary water.
"3. After the coffee is washed it must be dried, and for this purpose
it is spread out on the drier for the time necessary, so that the heat
and air may thoroughly dry the grains.
"4. From the warehouses or granaries where the coffee has been
hulled the drier or seasoner is taken, which is a large shallow box of
wood on stringers placed on supports. These boxes are movable, so
they may be run out into the sunshine or returned under roof at night
or when it rains.
"5. When the coffee is dry it must be separated from the mem-
branous endocarp or parchment which still covers and protects the
grain, and this is so adherent that considerable force is necessary to
separate it, and a good degree of skill in the work is needed in order
to avoid breaking of the grain.
"6. As the above-described operation leaves the coffee mixed with
the film with which it was covered, it is necessary to clean it, and
owing to the lightness of the film compared to the grain, wind is used
to make the separation, and it is therefore made to fall in a shower
from a certain height in some place where there is a good current
"7. Classification is the most tedious and delicate operation, and in
Porto Rico is performed by women, who put the coffee out upon the
ground or on a table and proceed to classify or select, forming the first
class of the sound, large, entire, and clean grains. This is 'select'
coffee. The second class, called triache, is composed of small, dark
grains, having been too long in the dryer or taken from the tree before
they were fully ripe. The third class is 'broken' coffee, which in-
cludes all grains that are torn and broken during the various cleaning
"8. After the coffee is classified and selected it is packed in such a
manner that it will be protected from exterior influences and causes
that might damage or injure it. Wooden boxes, barrels, or sacks are
used for this purpose, and are stored in the warehouses until the coffee
CULTIVATION OF COFFEE. 125
"'There are small plantations where the cultivation is both intelligent
and intense, which produce 30 quintals and more per hectare, but this
is exceptional, for there are lands in the same region which scarcely
produce one quintal. As an average crop, taken from the different
classes of land, and taking into account also the variations that occur
from year to year, a production of from 10 to 14 quintals per hectare
may be counted on as the result of fairly intelligent cultivation."
Report of Senor M. BADBENA.
"It is unquestionable that the cultivation of coffee in the island of
Porto Rico was started by emigrants from the island of Haiti, situated
westerly of Porto Rico. The insurrection of the black element
against the white decided most of the latter to quit the French
side of that island and seek refuge in Porto Rico, not only on
account of the fertility of the soil, but also because of the good nature
of the natives. The many families of French descent which reside
in the coffee districts confirm my opinion about this particular.
''Progress in cultivation was necessarily slow, as the plant requires
ten years for full development, and markets were also to be found.
Up to the year 1876, planters had no inducement to extend the culti-
vation; the prices left no margin of profit, and the augmentation in
the crops came only from natural development and some work done
indifferently. Coffee was then considered of little consequence in the
future of Porto Rico. Up to that time our markets were limited to
ports of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy ranging the first. Some was
exported also to Germany and France; very little to other markets.
All at once the United States of America opened their markets to
free coffee, and a jump of from $12 to $19 soon occurred; then another
jump and the price went up to $29.30 per hundredweight, and I say
dollars because at that time our exchange was below par. As men-
tioned before, this happened in the year 1876, and many were the
cargoes that left our shores for the United States, sailing ships being
the only vessels obtainable. Unfortunately, no attention was paid to
the quality shipped, and as we can not compete with Brazilian coffee
on account of its relative cheapness, the field in the United States
remained for Brazil. Later the attention of man}- was called to coffee
growing; there was a good margin in it then, and more care in the
manipulation of the bean brought to us the highest prices and the
best markets of Europe. Spain and Cuba consumed the poorest
126 REPORT 'ON THE CENSUS OF PORTO RICO, 1899.
"Not all of the planters prospered, however, during the long period
of good prices. Excessive expenditures, unnecessary expansion in buy-
ing new lands, money borrowed at high interest, and other causes,
principally the changing from the gold basis to silver, which apparently,
but only apparently, favored their interests, resulted in bad times for
the planters, who found themselves involved in debt.
"The war came; burning of plantations was of daily occurrence, the
demand from Spain and Cuba was annulled, and the price was lower
than could be remembered in a generation. Hopes, however, were
bright for a good crop and good prices this year, but the hurricane of
the 8th of August brought the final collapse. Much more can be said,
but the above is sufficient in general terms to bring the attention of
the Government to the present condition of the coffee interests.
"The old method was simple enough and consisted in breaking up
soil and planting the berries after they were deprived of their soft
cover or pulp. In this way a considerable quantity of small plants, as