B. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) Rice.

Mysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) online

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pleasant ; but they are not neatly kept ; and in the space between the
hedge and the beds, a great variety of bushes and weeds are allowed to

In the west, the betel vine is grown with the areca palm in the follow-
ing manner : — When the areca plantation is fifteen years old, in the
month immediately following the vernal equinox, a hole is dug near
every tree, one cubit deep and one and a half in width. After having
exposed the earth to the air for a month, return it into holes and allow
it to remain for another month. Then take out a little of the earth,
smooth the surface of the pit, and bury in it the ends of five cuttings
of the betel-leaf vine, which are placed with their upper extremities
sloping toward the palm. Once every two days, for a month, water the
cuttings, and shade them with leaves. Then remove the leaves and
with the point of a sharp stick loosen the earth in the holes. In the
first year the waterings must be repeated every day, and the whole must
once a month be hoed ; while at the same time dung is given to every
plant. In the second year, the vines are tied up to the palms ; once
in two months the garden is hoed and manured ; and it is in the hot
season only that the plants are watered. At the end of the second
year the vines begin to produce saleable leaves. In the third year and
every other year afterwards, so much of the vines next the root as has
no leaves, must be buried. Once in six months the garden must be
hoed and manured ; and in the hot season the vines must be watered
every other day.

The owners of these plantations are annoyed by elephants, monkeys
and squirrels ; and, besides, both palms and vine are subject to diseases ;
one of which, the anibe, in the course of two or three years kills the
whole. Except when these causes of destruction occur, the vine con-
tinues always to flourish ; but the palm begins to decay at forty-five
years of age, and is then removed, care being taken not to injure the
vine. Near this is made a fresh hole, in which some persons place two nuts
for seed, and others plant a young seedling. In order to support the
vine during the fifteen years which are required to bring forward the
new palm, a large branch of the hdruvdna, or erythrlna, is stuck in the
ground, and watered for two or three days ; when it strikes root and
supplies the place of an areca.

Coffee.^ — The variety of coffee cultivated in Mysore appears to be
the true coffea araln'ca, which Rhind informs us was originally intro-
duced into Arabia from Abyssinia. It was introduced into this
Province some two centuries ago by a person named Baba Budan, who,

' Adapted from a memorandum by Mr. Graham Anderson, C.I.E., Bargua Estate,


on his return from a pilgrimage to Mecca, brought a few seeds, which
he planted on the range of mountains still bearing his name."

In the selection of land for coffee cultivation, care must be taken to
obtain a tract well sheltered by nature from undue exposure either to
the south-west or the east wind, and situated, with a northern, north-
eastern, or north-western aspect, within the zone that is favoured with
as large as possible a share of the March and April showers and yet
not visited by too large a share of rain in the south-west monsoon.
There is in fact a line or coffee zone in every coffee-producing country,
and more especially in Mysore, even a mile beyond which the coffee-tree
will not exist. The plant rejoices in a damp, warm temperature, such as
is procurable in the west of Mysore at elevations from 2,500 to 3,500
feet above sea-level, although the tree will grow under certain circum-
stances at elevations both below and above these. A good rich loamy
soil, of any colour, with a good deposit of vegetable matter on the
surface, and not much sheet rock underlying it, is required.

There are five descriptions of land in Mysore in which coffee has
been planted^ : — the forest termed kdtis ; heavy ghat forest, termed
Ma/e ; village jungles, termed uduve ; kumri, or land the original timber
on which having been cut has been followed by a secondary growth of
trees of a smaller type ; and kanave, or lands covered with hard-wood
trees and bamboos. Some of the finest estates have been formed on
lands of the first and third classes, which have the decided advantage
over all other descriptions, of possessing a rich deposit of decayed
vegetable mould that has not been exposed to atmospheric influences,
and hence contains an almost inexhaustible store of organic and in-
organic constituents available as food for the coffee plant.

The kdns are generally situated in mountainous country, intersected
by streams of clear water, with rocky or sandy beds. The peculiarity
of the ravines through which these streamlets flow is, that the under-
growth is entirely different from that found under similar circumstances
in the ghat forests, consisting as it does of a gigantic species of

' Further particulars of the history of coffee cultivation will be found under Kadur
and Hassan Districts in Vol. II.

- This description applies to the Malnad, where alone extensive coffee plantations
have hitherto been formed. But forty years ago there were coffee gardens in Banga-
lore, and a few plants were grown in private gardens under wells by European
residents since then, yielding sufficient for domestic wants. The same practice seems
to have been common in Cochin so far back as 1743, according to Cantervisscher's
" Letters from Malabar." Of late years an experiment on a larger scale has been
made at Bangalore, l)y Mr. Minakshaiya, and coffee grown with great success on
irrigated land. The consequence has been a demand by European planters for land
suitable for the purpose near Bangalore and Mysore, and in other Maidan parts.

.M 2

1 64 FLORA

triangular coffcc-wced (called in Canarcsc hnnal or licb-gi'irkal), and
other succulent plants, whereas in the latter case basket reeds (termed
warti) and canes {Jietta) of every description are generally found in a
tangled mass. Uduve is strictly village jungle or forest, sometimes
almost entirely surrounded by rice-fields. The trees are frequently
large and of good descriptions, and the undergrowth is principally
small coffee-weed, bamboos and thorns. There are fewer ravines in
this kind of land and they are generally smaller and less precipitous,
but frequently old excavations, termed ivanigalu, are met with, which
evidently were dug out as approaches to villages formerly situated in the
very heart of the forest. Male tracts are situated close to the crest of the
ghats and generally contain gigantic timber, but can seldom boast of
good soil, except in protected situations, the generality of the land
having suffered from wash caused by the almost incessant rainfall in
the monsoon. The great height of the trees also proves prejudicial to
coffee, which is cut to pieces by the drip. The situation being bleak,
windy, and exposed to terrific rainfall, is seldom profitable for coffee
cultivation. Kumri lands frequently contain magnificent-Z^^/^/Xf soil,
but a certain amount of virtue has gone out of it by former exposure,
and although coffee has been planted and fine estates made on such
land, still the operation is always accompanied by a considerable
amount of risk, and always by heavy extra expenditure. In kanave
lands ravines containing fair average soil and trees are to be met with,
and these places are the only portions suitable for coffee. This
description of land has the disadvantage of showing a maximum area
of holding with a minimum of space available for cultivation.

Clearing for a plantation consists of removing with the axe and
cutting all undergrowth and obstructions, and such trees as are not
required. Large trees that have a thick foliage in the hot weather and
little or none in the monsoon, are left as shade at regular distances,
attention being paid to leave fewer trees on portions with a northern
aspect than on those facing the south, all quarters exposed to the wind
especially requiring protection. This accomplished, the ground is either
cleared by lopping and laying in line to await the process of rotting in
the monsoon, or fire is used to facilitate matters. Lines of pegs,
generally at 6 x 6 feet, are then laid down, and the land is holed, each
hole being generally one foot wide by two feet deep. This is done to
remove all obstacles to the roots of the young plants, and to make a
nice loose bed for their reception. Roads are traced to and from
convenient points in the property, and these are again intersected by
paths to facilitate the general working of the estate.

For 7iurseries, convenient situations, with facilities for irrigation or


with river or tank frontage, are selected and entirely cleared of trees,
the soil being dug to the depth of two feet or more, and every root and
stone removed. This is then laid out into beds, generally about four
feet wide, separated by paths, and the whole well drained and put in
order with the same care as a flower garden. Manure is applied and
the beds are then cut up into furrows, at six inches apart, into which
the seeds are placed, about one inch apart. The whole bed is then
covered up with dry leaves and watered by hand, care being taken to
maintain a uniform state of moisture, which must not be excessive.
The seed germinates in six weeks, and from the bean, which is raised
on a slender green stem of about eight inches in height, burst forth two
small oval leaves. These two-leafed seedlings are pricked out into
beds at either 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 inches, and require from ten to
fourteen months, with constant attention and watering, to form into
good plants, which should have three or four pairs of small primary
branches and be from one foot to one and a half in height.

Planting is performed in the months of June, July and August. The
plants being carefully removed from the beds and the roots trimmed,
they are planted either with a mamoti or planting staff by a regular
gang of experienced men. Great attention is paid to this operation to
see that the holes are properly filled in and that the roots are not bent
or injured, and lastly that the plants are firmly set in the ground and
not hung.

Under favourable circumstances, the plants are ready for topping in
the second year. A topping staff, duly marked to the proper height,
is placed alongside of the young tree, and the top or head and one
primary branch are removed. Trees are topped at heights varying
from two feet to four and a half feet, but the medium of three feet is
generally preferred. This operation has the effect of directing the sap
into the primary branches and making them throw out secondary
shoots, which come from each eye along the branch. An abundance of
vigour has the effect of forcing out a number of shoots under the junc-
tion of the upper primaries with the stem, and also from the stem at
various places. These are termed suckers, and are all removed by
gangs of women and boys. The first crop generally appears in the
third year, and consists merely of a few berries on the primary branches,
aggregating about one maund per acre. In the fourth year a return of
about one cwt. per acre may be expected, and it is not until the seventh
or eighth year that the planter is rewarded by a full crop, which, even
under the most fi^vourable circumstances, rarely exceeds five or six
cwts. per acre.

The crop commences to ripen in October and November. As soon

1 66 FLORA

as the cherries are of a fine red colour, they are picked into baskets,
and brought to the pulper to be either measured or weighed, and
deposited in a vat made for their reception. They are passed through
the pulper with a stream of water either the same day or early next
morning, and the pulp or outer skin being thus removed, the beans are
allowed to ferment for twenty or twenty-four hours, without water, to
facilitate the removal of the saccharine matter which surrounds them.
After the mass has been washed and well stamped out in three waters,
all light beans and skins being carefully separated, the beans are re-
moved to the draining mats, where^ they are constantly turned over and
allowed to remain for a day or more, or until all water has drained off.
They are then spread out thickly on the drying ground in order to dry
slowly. This is an operation requiring constant attention for six or
eight days, the whole having to be covered up every evening to protect
it from dews. The beans should not be dried too thinly spread, or too
suddenly exposed to the full rays of the sun, as they are apt to become
bleached and bent. A drying ground protected by large trees is the
best, as in that case portions in shade and sun are both available.
When the beans are sufficiently dried, they are bagged and despatched
to the coast or Bangalore for preparation and shipment.

The yield of an estate that has been well maintained in cultivation
may be put down at from three and a half to four cwts. per acre. As
much as six cwts. per acre have been produced off portions, but of
course only under the most favourable circumstances, and such is
an exception to the general rule. An accurately calculated estimate
shows that, in a series of years, the crop is more frequently below
three and a half cwts. than above. But the result varies in different

The earliest official notice^ of coffee in Mysore is said to have been
in 1822. But though the plant has been known for so long, it is only
of recent years that coffee has come into use among natives, and chiefly
in the towns. When INIr. Elliot first settled in ]\Iysore, in 1856, he
was repeatedly asked by the farmers of the country whether Europeans
ate the berry, or of what use it could possibly be. The variety of
coffee originally cultivated here came to be known as Chick, probably
from Chickmagalur, the principal town at the foot of the Baba Budan
hills, the Mysore home of the plant. This variety had thriven well and
promised to do so for an indefinite period of time, but in 1866 and the
three succeeding years there were dry hot seasons, which caused a
wide-spread attack of the Borer insect. About the same time a general

' The information in the following paragraphs is taken chiefly from Gold, Sport and
Coffee-planting in Mysore, by Mr. R. li. Elliot, of Bartchinhulla Estate, Manjarabad.


decline in the constitution of the trees became manifest. So serious
was the result that coffee-planting seemed liktly to come to an end in
Mysore, except in the case of a few elevated tracts in the Baba Budan
hills. At this juncture, in 1870, Mr, Stanley Jupp, having obser\'ed
advantages in the coffee grown in Coorg, recommended his brother
planters to introduce seed from that province. The young plants raised
from the imported seed throve with extraordinary vigour, and it was
soon found that the new variety would grow and crop well, and even
on land on which all attempts to reproduce the Chick variety had
utterly failed. " Then this sinking industry rose almost as suddenly as
it had fallen ; old and abandoned estates, and every available acre of
forest and even scrub, were planted up ; and land which used to change
hands at from Rs. 5 to 10 an acre was eagerly bought in at twelve times
these rates." Another cause for anxiety, however, now arose, for when
the produce of the new variety came into the market, brokers objected
to pay Mysore prices for Coorg coffee. But, as the trees from Coorg
seed aged, the produce each year assimilated more and more in appear-
ance and quality to that of the old Mysore plant. Consequently the
Coorg variety, the stock of which is kept up by continual importations
of fresh seed, has been permanently adopted as a plant which crops
more regularly and heavily than the Chick, and the produce of which
has so improved under the influence of the soil and climate of Mysore,
that, with the exception of the long-established brand of " Cannon's
Mysore," and the produce of a few other estates that still grow Chick,
in the Baba Budan hills, there is little difference in value.

The high reputation of Mysore coffee, the best quality of which is
commonly quoted at los. to 15s. a cwt. above that of any other kind
that reaches the London market, is attributed partly to the soil and
climate, and pardy to the coffee being slowly ripened under shade.
The pioneers of the industry, following the practice in Ceylon, had
cleared away all the forest and planted their coffee in the open. That
this was a fatal mistake was not at first decisively apparent. But the
devastations of the Borer and leaf disease, the great enemies of coffee,
eventually put the question beyond all doubt. And so clearly is the
vital necessity of shade now recognized, that, in Mr. Elliot's opinion,
formed after ample experience, "if good shade of the best kind is
grown, it is absolutely impossible to destroy a plantation in Mysore,
even with the worst conceivable management or neglect." The easiest
of the methods that have been adopted for providing shade is to clear
down and burn the entire forest and then plant shade trees along with
the coffee. Another plan is to clear and burn the underwood and a
certain portion of the forest trees, leaving the remainder for shade.

1 68 FLORA

Experience shows ihat ihe retention of as much as possible of the
original forest is desirable, and that land which has not been burnt will
last far longer. To this may be attributed the continued existence of
the most ancient estates in Mysore.

Five trees are specially recommended as the most suitable to grow
Cor shade, namely, kap basari (ficus tjakela, Burm.)', gbni (ficus
mysorensis, Heyne), kari basari (ficus infectoria, Roxb.), /// basari (a
variety of the same), and mitli (? streblus asper, Lour.), of which there
are two kinds, heb initli and haralu initli, the second being " a bad
tree." The trees should be planted in lines running east and west, in
order to provide shade from the southerly sun, and so close in each
row that in five or six years the tops will touch. \\'hen they begin to
crowd, every other one should be removed, and this process can be
repeated if found necessary.

Of the diseases to which the coffee plant is subject in Mysore, leaf
disease is the growth of a fungoid named hemileia vastatrix, which dis-
tributes its spores in the form of yellow powder. The effect is to strip
the tree more or less of its foliage. The disease called borer is due to
a beetle {xylotrechus quadrupes\ red or yellow with black lines, and
about as large as a horsefly. It lays its eggs in some crevice in the
bark. The larvae, when hatched, bore into the stem and live on the
heartwood for from three to five months, when they eat their way out
as winged beetles. Coffee-trees attacked by borer wither away through-
out the part the insect has injured. The best remedy for and preventive
of both diseases is said to be properly shading the coffee with suitable
trees. Another disease of coffee is called rot, also the growth of
a fungoid, named pelliadaria kokroga, which covers the leaves and
berries with a black slime, causing them to rot away. The free circu-
lation of air seems to be required when this appears.

With the view of ascertaining whether coffee grown from seed im-
ported from other countries would be less susceptible to leaf disease,
Messrs. Matheson and Co. went to great expense in Coorg in intro-
ducing coffee seed from Brazil, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Jamaica.
But it was found that in that respect they were neither better nor worse
than the Coorg variety. A further experiment has been made with
Blue Mountain seed, but the plants do not seem to be in any way

Liberian coffee {coffea liberica), a taller and stronger plant, with a
larger leaf and berry, was introduced by Colonel Benson, Assistant

* Mr. Elliot gives this as Cub Busru (Ficus tuberculata), and no botanical name
for the last two. My names are taken from Mr. Cameron's catalogue on the assump-
tion that they represent the trees intended.




Commissary-General, about the time when leaf disease was causing such
destruction. It was thought that this hardier plant, native of a hotter
climate and lower region, might be found proof against the disease.
But, notwithstanding various experiments, whether the flavour of the
berry is inferior, or from whatever cause, it has not supplanted the
old variety.' A hybrid, a cross between the two, is said to be more


Online LibraryB. Lewis (Benjamin Lewis) RiceMysore: a gazetteer compiled for government (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 98)