5 Kilograms per Plant?

When people look at our business plan, and then go and do their research, a frequent query comes back questioning this assertion, for it is higher than achieved in Madagascar. Let me make our assumption plain.

We expect to harvest 5 kg of green vanilla per plant which will become 1 kg of dried, processed vanilla. Interestingly, this is the same figure that the World Bank expert estimates for her crops. We based this calculation on the fact that vanilla farmers in our area claim they used to get 10-12kg per plant.

After a year, do we stand by this claim?

Absolutely. And we go further.  That’s 5kg of which 90% will be grade A. This is despite the fact that we now know that in North Bali, with its drier climate, they, like Madagascar, get between2 and 4 kilograms per plant.  There are no longer any local vanilla farmers to compare.

So, let me explain.  We use our Raised Bed technology.  We don’t know of anybody else using this, except people who are following and copying us (we encourage this).  With this system, each plant can have roots that stretch for several meters through loose compost, ideal growing conditions for an orchid.  And no part of the orchid is more than 3m from the roots.

As the orchid grows, it gets to the top of the 1.5m support tree and wavers in the air, slowly collapsing and falling down as it grows.  When it reaches the ground, we put 10cm under the compost and encourage it to grow up the tree again.  Once it is half a meter clear up the tree, we cut the shoot where it enters the soil, leaving a hanging branch.  After 3 years, our vanilla plants will have at least 20 hanging branches.

Come flowering time, they will produce flower spikes on the bottom two nodes. Of these, we shall pollinate perhaps ten flowers on each node.  This ensures plenty of nutrition gets to each pod, and results in pods weighing over 20g. They average perhaps 17g, so let’s say it is 15g.

Each plant has 20 hanging branches.  Each branch has 20 pods.  That’s 400 pods.  Average weight of 15g gives us 6kg.

So, yes, we stand by our claim!

PS This is another of our little secrets as to how we create such magnificent vanilla, and part of what makes us viable and profitable as a long term investment.

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