Interaction between Coffee (Coffea arabica L.) and Intercropped Herbs under Field Conditions in the Sierra Norte of Puebla, Mexico

Alex Pacheco Bustos, H. Jürgen Pohlan, Margot Schulz


Caffeine released from decaying seeds and leaves accumulates in a soluble form in the soil. The compound is known to inhibit mitosis, reduce the access of nutrients and water to surrounding plants which is one of limiting problems in intercropped coffee plantations. The allelopathic interactions between coffee (Coffea arabica L.) and mint (Mentha piperita L.), basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), oregano (Origanum vulgare L.) and sage (Salvia officinalis L.) could be a diversification alternative and extra income activity for coffee growers outside the harvest period that could cope with high levels of caffeine in the soil. We tested the interaction of the proposed system (2004 – 2005) in rural area of Puebla State, Mexico. The results demonstrate that intercropping sage, spearmint, basil and oregano stimulate the plagiotropic growth of Coffea arabica plants most effectively in young production systems, through volatile essential oils. Intercropping basil, sage, spearmint and oregano in coffee plantations seems to be a promising approach for higher income and increasing yield and quality production in coffee farms.


allelopathy; herbs; caffeine uptake; intercropping systems; mint; oregano; sage; basil

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