Growing Coca

This page is a chapter in 'Book Coca'

Growing Coca

Coca is traditionally cultivated in the Andes, in the highlands, but also in lower altitudes, on the easter slopes of the Andes, where it is an important trade commodity. Species vary according to location, climate and altitude. There are also quite a few varieties of wild or feral coca plantes near traditional growing areas, notably in the Amazon basin. In the late 19th and early 20th century, coca was also tentatively tranplanted to numerous places, in European ethnobotanical gardens, India and Ceylon, and as far as South-East Asia ( Java/Indonesia, Formosa / Taiwan), West Africa ( Cameroon) and Australia, in various growing experiments. These transplantation and growing experiments were planned and organised by colonial powers ( the U.K., Holland, France, Germany and Japan), and motivated by cocaine production.
In traditional Andean cultivation contexts, coca seeds are sown from December to January in small growing plots (almacigas in Quechua), where the plants are sheltered from direct sunlight. Young plants reaching 40–60 cm in height are finally replanted in carefully weeded soil, either in holes (aspi), or furrows (uachos) if the ground is level.
Best coca leaves are said to come from dry, high altitude growing areas, on hillsides and valleys, but coca also thrives in damp and humid situations, such as the clearings of tropical forests. Some varieties also produce large quantities of active alkaloids in such conditions ( Amazonian coca)
The leaves are harvested from plants of various ages, from 1/2 year old to plants over forty year old, but only the new fresh leaf growth is harvested. Leaves that break when they are twisted are considered ready for harvesting. There are two or three coca harvests a year, depending on the area, the first and most abundant harvest being in March, after the rains ( which tends to weaken alkaloid production), the second usually at the end of June, and a third potential harvest in October or November. Coca leaves are semi dried, in the sun, green leaves (matu in Quechua) are spread in thin layers on mats, straw or coarse woolen cloths, and left to dry. Dry leaves are then packed into sacks, and stored in dry conditions to preserve leaf quality.

One of the main historical difficulties faced by late 19th / early 20th century botanists as they tried to adapt coca plants outside their original habitat was that the alkaloid production would quickly become minimal. This was mainly due to differences in atmosperic pressure, which lead people to think that it was not possible to grow alkaloid producing coca plants at low altitudes. However, while this connection is verified for species growing in the very high altitudes of the Andes, pressure and altitude being closely linked to the level of alkaloid production and most E. coca growing at lower altitude being less potent than high-altitude Andean coca, the erythroxylum coca family is quite diverse, and cross breeding between low and high altitude native strains has given birth to plants capable of producing a good concentration of alkaloids at much lower altitudes and atmospheric pressure.

Another example is the very successful transplantation experiment that has come to be known as Java coca. The British and Dutch where trying to find suitable growing areas for cocaine producing coca in their colonies, in the height of the late 19th century coca boom, and two successful experiments where Ceylon, and Indonesia / Java.
Java soon became a major coca growing area, for medical cocaine production, almost overtaking South American growing operations, and this lasted until the 1930's. Interestingly enough, Japan, due to its expansionist political history, took over parts of the Dutch empire and became the world's 3rd cocaine-from Java coca producer until WWII. Japan also transplanted coca in other colonies, such as the island of Formosa ( Taiwan)

This is to say that coca can be grown outside of South America and produce good concentrations of alkaloids, but that this is strongly related to the strain used. E. Coca species also vary not only in alkaloid concentration but also in the makeup of their alkaloid spectrum. This changes the coca "chewing" experience (another proof that cocaine is not the only active alkaloid when it comes to the psychophysiological effects of coca) but has little inflience on cocaine HCl extraction procedures.
Erythroxylum coca and e. novogranatense can be grown outside in many locations... they are hardy down to 10° celsius and up to 30° celsius.
In general, coca requires acidic soil.

This section below still needs to be compiled and written.

Should include general text on making … and one or more how to grow … TEK’s. Difficulties(diseases, molds, infection, etc with growing)

According to Michael Valentine Smith ( Psychedelic Chemistry)

1. Seeds should be planted as soon as they fall from the bush. If they dry out, they will die right away. The only way to keep them for a maximum of about two weeks, is to keep them in moist (not wet) sphagnum in a cool place. Often this initiates germination, so they must be watched for rot or premature germination. Under no circumstances should they be kept dry, since even room humidity is too dry.
2. Vermiculite seems to be the best medium for coca germination, fine grade if possible. Styrofoam cups are OK, but I prefer small plastic pots, 2"diameter, with holes in the bottom. Seeds should be planted no deeper than one inch. Pots should be raised so as not to saturate the medium. Coca, whether as a seedling or a mature plant, never likes to have wet feet. I think it is better to start them in small pots rather than flats, so there is less damage to the root system when they are transplanted. Forget the hot pad -- I think it is completely unnecessary. Seedlings usually come up in 2 to 4 weeks if they are viable.
3. Since most people don't have enough room in their shower stalls for plants, I'd say forget this one, too. Seeds will germinate in any warm place, even if the humidity is not too great. A better idea is to place your germination pots in a terrarium with a coarse gravel layer on the bottom. Do not seal over and allow plenty of ventilation if you choose to place a layer of glass over the terrarium. Any box of this sort will do. If possible, place a Growlux fluorescent fixture, with two 40 W bulbs, over the terrarium, especially after seeds germinate. A common problem at this state is etiolation (too little light) which makes the plantlets weak and very susceptible to damping off, a fungus attack of the tender stems.
4. Water the seeds when the vermiculite starts to dry out. Once a day is probably too often, unless you live in a very dry apartment. But if the drainage is good and you have plenty of holes in the bottom of the pots, excess water should drain off. Fungal attack is a real problem in a humid atmosphere and another reason for keeping the plants out of your shower, a basically unhygenic place for plants.
5. Transplanting: plantlets can remain in vermiculite starting pots until they are about 2-3 inches tall. The growlights should be about a foot above the plants. I do not recommend clay pots at this stage. They dry out too fast, especially in a dry apartment. Even in one day, a fast-drying shock can kill your plants. It is better to move into plastic pots, but the size should be increased gradually. A big pot is not necessarily good for a small plant, in fact it is not a good idea at all. From styrofoam cups, I suggest a two-inch pot, then increase 1-2 inches per transplanting.
6. Soil mixture: forget the vermiculite from now on. It holds too much moisture and makes for saturated, unhealthy soil. I suggest the following: 0.25 coarse clean sand, 0.25 perlite, 0.25 sterilized loam, and 0.25 milled peat. If this seems too light, increase loam and peat. Some sterilized organic compost, screened, may also be added for nutrition.
7. Even when the plants are still in vermiculite, feeding with soluble plant food is recommended. They are heavy feeders and every three weeks or more often is not too often to fertilize. When plants are older it is important to give them iron in the form of iron chelate, available as a red powder sold as KEELATE on the West Coast. A yellow powder, not as good, is sold as SEQUESTRENE. This element should be added about every six months, but strictly according to instructions. Soil must be flushed three times after applying the dissolved iron compound to avoid burning roots. Most yellowed or bleached out leaves are caused by iron deficiency, but this also occurs when plants go deciduous. Periodically, the whole coca bush turns yellow and drops its leaves, every one. Most people freak out when this happens, but if it is otherwise a healthy, vigorous plant, then this is normal. After dropping, new flushes soon appear to renew the foliage. This is more likely to happen with Erythroxylum coca than with E. novogranatense.
8. Transplanting depends on the size of the plant and how fast it is growing. If you think your plant needs transplanting, look at the holes in the bottom of the pot to see if any roots are present. If so, then the roots have probably filled the pot and it is time. You can also carefully de-pot the plant by tapping upside down on a table edge. Repotting is probably unnecessary unless the roots have encircled the inner periphery of the pot. Again, the size of the pot should be increased gradually for best growth.
9. Watering: most city water, is unsuitable for coca. They are calciphobes and don't like heavy salts in the water. Best to use rainwater, melted snow, bottled spring water or distilled water if they are available. Plants should only be watered if the soil dries out. Stick your finger in the soil. If it feels moist, don't water.
10. Bugs: coca is amazingly resistant to insects and mites. Mealy bugs are the worst offenders. These may be removed with a forceps or cotton swab dipped in 50-70% alcohol. Keep infested plants in quarantine. Malathion may be used as a last resort, but then leaves cannot be used until the next flush (of leaves).
11 Light: warm, sunny exposure indoors. Full sun (through a window) will not hurt plantlets over 3 inches tall. But no full sun outdoors until they are 3 feet tall. If plants are put out in the summer, they should be protected from sun, rain, and wind, until they are large and strong. Put them in a shady place first, under a tree, etc., end gradually move to a sunnier location. Breezes are good for plants and even indoors a fan on low should be directed towards the plants. It makes them stronger.
12. Plants can also be grown entirely under growlights, or a combination of growlights and window light. Most apartments are not sunny enough for strong growth, so especially in winter, give the plants accessory light. Growlux Widespectrum Tubes seem to work well. I use one Growlux and one regular Sylvania Lifeline tube in each fixture. They work very well. The lamps are suspended 6 inches to one foot above larger plants.
13. Careful removal of the older leaves does not harm plants, but they should be strong and healthy to allow this, and probably three years old if grown indoors.
14. Coca does not like extremes of any kind. 50° F. is the lowest permissible temperature, 90° F. the highest. Sudden temperature changes are especially damaging. Likewise, sudden changes in air humidity or soil moisture. E. novogranatense tolerates extremes, especially droughts, better than E. coca, which is a much more delicate plant, but the one which produces the most alkaloid.
15. Coca cuttings root very poorly. some guys have managed to root some E. novogranatense cuttings only after six months in perlite with an initial application of Hormodin #1 rooting hormone. It is better to fertilize your flowers and plant seed. Some varieties are self-compatible (self-fertilizing). Others require two plants of different stylar lengths (long styled x short styled) to produce seed. This is routinely accomplished by bees and other insects in the greenhouse during the summer months and can be done with a fine artists brush at home, merely by dusting pollen from flowers on one plant to those on another with opposite stylar form. In California, outdoor cultivation of coca is possible only around San Diego, if there. Trujillo Coca would probably do well there under irrigation and intensive care. Elsewhere, forget it. I do not subscribe to growing it commercially indoors and doubt if the produce would be worthwhile. Greenhouse and apartment grown leaf is very inferior in flavor and potency. Fresh air and sunshine are in order (as with Cannabis).

Additional Notes

1. When plants are sprouting, it is OK to have several of them in the same pot -- a 5-inch clay pot will do for between 4 and 7 sprouts. When they reach at least two inches tall, it is good to transplant them into individual pots using the soil mixture recommended earlier.
2. In handling the young plants, no matter how tall or short they are, always be careful not to touch the young plants or to touch them as little as possible, particularly on the roots and on the tips of the stems. The tips of the stems are where the shoots come from that allow the plant to grow, and even when the plant is mature, never touch the end of the stems and never remove the leaves that cling precariously to the end of the stem.
3. Don't freak out when the plants go deciduous, usually about a year or a year and a half from sprouting. They drop almost all their leaves except the ones at the tip of the stems, turn yellow and mottled, and you think they're dying. They're not -- in fact, they're growing! Within a few days, little spike-shaped green sprouts will appear, and tiny, usually white, flowers. After a few years, the flowers will start producing little seedpods, roundish oval shaped green pods that the flower may still cling to. These then dry and turn slowly red on the plant, reaching a bright red like a cherry-colored coffee fruit, which contains the albumin and nourishment for the tiny seed in the center. Usually the shrubs will go through the leaf-fall several times, about once every 2 or 3 months, before the seedpods appear. Don't expect seeds until the plant is 3 to 5 years old.
4. Back to when the plants are still sprouts. Every day -- usually in the morning, but it depends on what fits your schedule best -once a day, flush the pots with clean water, preferably rainwater or distilled. Literally hold the whole pot (without its saucer) under very gently flowing water poured into the vermiculite or soil without touching the plant. The soil or medium should almost let the water drain straight through, retaining moisture but not water in the medium. This is the way to "water" a young plant. When they get older, you can just water them regularly like any other plant, but lightly, daily.
5. The most important thing in tending young plants is to keep the temperature even and constant, day and night, around 64° F. They can stand slightly higher or lower temperatures but they can't stand shifting temperatures.
6. Once the plants get to be above a foot, they are pretty well established. After that first scary leaf-dropping, you will learn to recognize that process when it happens as described in Note 3 above. There is a different phenomenon that looks somewhat similar that happens to plants if they go through a sudden temperature change, especially if it gets cold suddenly or if they are exposed to cold fog and winds without much warm sunlight. In this case, the leaves very quickly become dry and crinkled and, turn deep brown and yellow-brown mottling, at first on their leaf tips and soon covering the whole leaf. This means your plant is about to die. The only thing to do is to lightly spray the leaves with pure (not tap) water and keep the plants at a constant warm temperature and talk to them and keep careful watch on them. Don't over-water, but keep the leaves themselves warm and moist. The plant has a 50% chance for recovery.


information from these threads to be compiled :

coca growing basics and focus on soil

how to grow coca plants, article

I think if you are willing to take the time and interest to locate seeds on the internet (by the way E.NOVO VAR. NOVO is more adaptable than other varieties)and have the ability to grow other ethnobotanicals than you have a good chance at growing coca the biggest thing with coca is watering it properly I know sites cannot be mentioned but if you are able to find a place to buy seeds than you can also find the proper growing info there thats what swims friend did.swim was always told that coca was not able to be grown in the usa but swim tried and found out I mean swims friend found out that they grow very well although they are taken in during cold nights in winter months.
It truely is worth the time swims friends plants are kept at 70-95 degrees during summer outside,once winter months roll around they are taken inside if temp falls below 55 degrees f. swims friend only waters the plants if he can poke finger in soil 1/2 to 1 inch and soil is dry.dont believe those who will tell you it cant be done because it can and quite easily ,you just have to locate the right place to get seeds.when swim gets a camera fixed swim will see if swims friend will let swim get some pics to post .sorry for rambling on but my point is get the seeds grow um and enjoy it is worth it and dont ever let anyone tell you you cant do something.
was wondering what soil substrate is successful for coca? Swim has used Pro-mix, a peat moss, vermiculite, perlite mix, and even though both novo and coca species grow in it, swim has had constant yellowing of older leaves, and the color has never been right on any of the leaves. The new growth often looks good for a week or so, then the yellow mottling happens. Swim uses an acid fertilizer (17-6-6) with extra iron, and adds some mixed mineral supplement as well. The coca pH is adjusted to under 5 and the novo's pH is around 5.5. Swim uses a 1000 w MH, and the temperature stays between 75 and 90 F. A fan provides a gentle breeze.
Swims friend uses potting soil combined with sand a little perlite mixed in also adds cured manure or what ever you want to call it says manure on bag but looks just like the cheap potting soil swims friend gets also some charcoal from the fire pit there are alot of nutrients in the charcoal .
swims friend uses a 12-4-8 and 4-12-4 plant food every two weeks originally started with the 4-12-4 transplanting solution then started adding the 12-4-8 in with it to change them over but plants have done so well with the two combined swims friend continues with it .
I know you need to get the micro nutrients also so far swims friend has been lucky as far as soil and fert go I dont know if we can give a site for grow info purposes but if you google growing E.novogranatense coca plants or java coca should give you some good link for how to grow.
Sounds like the low pH might be causing a lockout of calcium. It might be better to bring it up to about 6? Calcium def can make a plant's overall color appear off too.

Having "extra" iron can be kind of a funny pH/lockout issue too. the iron content in the coca's native soils might make it seem like the plant needs a lot of iron but the main role that iron in the soil plays is a pH stabilizer (it conducts the electricity, raises EEC capacity, makes the soil acidic). too much iron can lockout the calcium too.
so it's true that the plant grows in an iron soil, but most of that iron is locked into a substrate status, it's not actually a soluable and immediately available nute in huger quantities than other nutes.

most of the soils of the world are like that^^.
it is only the soils of the deserts and the river bottoms that are different to my knowledge; the river bottoms will be neutral and the deserts will be alkaline.

River bottom soil is not a bad idea to some degree. like i said, it is prone to being neutral but also it's silt is the "alluvial" soil that some coca soil is said to have in it. It is the worn rocks, the smallest particles of soil, the most available and obscure of minerals; and it may be why the grow texts for coca mention the dangers of erosion so often. because in the mountains when erosion happens, the alluvial soil washes away and there is no replacement for it like there is in the riverbasins where the silt gets replenished all the time from the draining down and washing of the surrounding countryside.

Alkaloid production in many plants is linked to high mineral content in the soil, so SWIM should keep up the good work there. Kelp is a good source of trace minerals because the kelp soaks up all the traces sent to the sea (so it shouldn't be collected from polluted places). there are also many rock fertilizers around, like granite dust has potassium, phosphate rock has P and greensand is pretty good. there are others. but also a good source is usually the dirt in SWIM's yard; getting a handful of different colored dirt everytime he goes on a trip is not a bad plan.

Most frequently a yellowing of the lower leaves means nitrogen deficiency. N def can also cause an all over light green color rather than the darker green. an N def is easy to imagine if SWIM is giving food only occasionally because the substrates he is using do not have any nutes of their own. After the food is dried up or washed out of the inert mediums, then the plant must subsist on it's own nitrogen reserves; and it can only do that a few days before it has to start robbing it's lower leaves to support the new top growth.

A good soil mix might be:

10% silt
20% humus/loam ("used up" compost, full of humates and fulvates)
20% fresh compost
25% iron clay based soil (like from most yards or pine forests)
25% composted wood bits or sand/grit

a mix like that will be best if it is either renewed from the top or by repotting. that means every few months SWIM can repot or else he could put new organic matter on top of the soil. putting it on top works well if there are worms in the mix; or else he can whiz it in a blender and pour the solution on the soil to get it to the lower soil. repotting 1 - 3 times a year still isn't a bad idea though.

I imagine that the coca could take some feeding beside the food that will be in that soil mix. The soil would feed okay for 6 weeks, but after that or before, SWIM can give supplemental food in his water.
SWIM originally made a potting mix composed of soil from a forest with wild blueberries (focusing on worm casts under organic matter), sharp sand, a little bit each of black rock phosphate, greensand, fossilized seabird guano and dry humate. The mix was lightened up with peat moss and perlite. The plants were given rain water, with a little clay and fulvic acid, and mild organic hydro ferts. The plants were experiencing deficiencies so they were transplanted into Pro-mix and they did better, but still had problems. SWIM's research showed that E coca likes the soil very acid, and supposedly can't stand calcium (though I know this an essential nutrient, and is found in the leaf). The E novo's are supposed to grow best at a pH around 4.7 . SWIM wonders if testing pH with a liquid test kit is giving accurate readings. Other growers SWIM reads about seem to not test pH and the plants look fine. SWIM has been using reverse osmosis water and chem fertilizer for acid loving plants, and citric acid to adjust pH. The pH is always higher when the runoff water is tested, likely from buffers in the Pro-mix potting soil.

According to SWIM, the plants were started under flourescents and sunlight and were later moved under the 1000 MH. They are now 3-4 ' under the light, with the light on 24 hours a day. SWIM does not think the constant light is the problem. The E coca are probably 5 months old, well branched and some are flowering. The E novo var novo are 9 months old, lots of branches, and have flowered off and on for at least six months. No seeds have formed. Sometimes older leaves will be the problem, sometimes it will be middle leaves and sometimes the growing tips. Other times a lower branch will have green leaves while the rest of the plant is yellowing. Very frustrating for SWIM to say the least. Lots of early leaf drop with the affected leaves. SWIM has read just about all the growing info available on the web, including info from Java. SWIM wonders if it could be another problem like light spectrum or watering. SWIM lets the plants dry until the pot is light and it is dry 1/2-1". Very rarely will the plants start to wilt before water is applied. Some plants have leaves curled up on the edges like they are too wet or something, though they do dry out between waterings.

SWIM wonders why, but is now sprouting E novo var Truxillense. SWIM really hopes to figure out what the exact problem is so the new plants won't struggle like the others have. SWIM is willing to repot or change pH or anything else that will help.
Yes, the liquid tests are accurate. The paper strip tests are not always though, especially if the substance is extremely aqueous.

It sounds like SWIM's plants are struggling with the acidic pH. Momentary lockup/lockouts causing transient, but classic, nutrient deficiency symptoms. maybe because of the method of acidification. In their native environment, the acidity is kind of a static thing, caused by the conductivity of the iron in the soil. But the peat, and the RO water and all, are pretty active.

maybe it is like if SWIM were standing on a really warm rock ledge. and the warmth under his feet would be comforting/stabilizing. but if the air was warm too, then it might be too much.

Coca's native environment, the lee side of that huge mountain range down there, is a moderately deep clay soil with very little difference in it's secondary and deeper clay layers (utilisol). The texts don't say first layer of the soil horizon is the same in clay, just the next ones. and also the soil is sometimes fragic. Fragic's consistancy is what I imagine humate to be. so I applaud SWIM's choice in that additive. It's a fine particle that can become hard like bone, but gets weaker in water. if a dried piece is immersed, it "slakes", like a fine film that comes off and mixes thoroughly i think they mean; very soluable like. Very fertile/available stuff maybe.

so. We are also thinking that the pH report that SWIM heard may be just a bit exaggerated. 4.7 is awfully darn low. It probably isn't taking into account the significant amount of fine organic material that accumulates on top of the soil. Plant material has a higher pH than the lower subsoils when it is fresh and if the organic materials undergo a composting process, then their pH will raise even more, it will be close to, if not exactly, neutral. But all of that happens in the top few inches of soil and soil tests are taken from deeper parts. All soil tests will specify the sample should be taken from 6 or more inches down. Generally, the deeper the test, the more accurate it is portrayed to be in some pH texts. So not only could the test be missing that top layer's influence, but also there is the small fact that the deeper one goes in a rainy region, the more acidic a clay soil can get. like gley soils in England. it is due to what happens to the iron; the condensing of it i think.

so to wrap it up, and since i did take a look at the maps, i will say that i doubt very much the soils in coca's native habitat have an average soil pH that low because the soil fertility maps would not show such a positive value for that area if the pH was that low.

and speaking of maps. maybe SWIM got ahold of a text that read like the one i just looked at, it described a utilisol (coca's native soil) as never existing "in calcerous soils". A phrase like that might lead someone to think that plants that grow in utilisol don't like calcium. but actually calcerous soils develop where it is arid. Everything after that (like the accumulation of calcium) is secondary, so a calcerous soil may be calcerous but it got that way by something that had nothing to do with calcium.

to a person studying soil, this makes sense because the classification of soils generally has to do with one main thing> How the soil developed. Coca's soil got that way from lots of rain. and calcerous soils got that way from no rain. <<that is why utilisols are said to never exist in conjunction with calcerous soils.
is this in relationship to other coca plants? or in relationship to SWIM's expectations? because it may be light or pH but also this>

I have read that coca gets harvested 2 - 6 times a year; and that the way to tell if it is ready to harvest is: the leaves crack and break when bent; and the leaves may have yellow tinge or yellow edges. and so i am thinking that maybe SWIM has a plant that needs regular harvesting. all that "leaf drop" might be what SWIM has been waiting for. it is the leaves becoming mature, getting dry and losing their chlorophyll and preparing to drop<<it is (may be) harvest time.

^^that makes especial sense if we are thinking that flower formation may 'naturally' follow this 'typical' leaf drop. it appears the plant may be doing natural cycles.

honestly I have had a hell of a time when trying to find pH readings online so good luck with that. it seems the major sources of info are begging us to share readings/thoughts on it. but as far as researching the existing taxonomy/basic soil structures down there, maybe my best advice would be to look at the inceptisols first. it's probably the most basic soil and then the lower soils will be like that inceptisiol but they will have more of the finer pieces because those pieces will have washed down from the inceptisol. Also their fertility goes up, probably due to the higher numbers/accumulation of those fine pieces that get washed down; more plants will be growing there so the vegetative/organic content in the soil will be higher too.

most, if not all, the soils that coca is grown in down there will derive from the mountain top soil. good menomic>>the INCEPTIsol was there at the inception.

the inceptisol is the mountain tops and the utilisol is the lee side of the mountain where the accumulation of fine particles allows it's UTILIzation as an agricultural medium.

Quote:SWIM hopes to get the plants healthy and bring them outdoors when it's warm to let the bees cross pollinate the plants for some berries and possibly some hybrids.

I read that when those berries are fully grown then they are picked and allowed to ripen off the vine; idk why off the vine. maybe so there is less seed loss? and maybe it speeds the coca onto it's next cycle; idk. But the 'drupes' are allowed to ripen until they are soft (maybe the seeds need further maturing?). and then the pulp is washed off the seeds. and then the seeds are dried.

^^that was interesting to me because in some plants, the seed pulp is necessary for seed germination. the seeds need to ferment in it a bit. and then after that the seeds can be removed and dried. if the seeds were removed and dried too quickly, then the seeds can be fermented in something else and then used; it doesn't have to be their own juices, just a like substance.

I also read that when SWIM wants seeds, he needs to use plants that were grown from seed; because if a coca plant was grown from a cutting (is a clone), then it's seeds will not be viable.

Quote:Also, it should be noted that SWIM is using a warm spectrum 1000 w metal halide with a 24 hour photoperiod. This may have either sped maturity, or triggered a hormonal response to reproduce.

This is quite likely and very interesting, thanks for sharing.
Yes, I have considered that SWIM's plants were going through somewhat of a natural leaf drop, although they yellowed before they should have. I think I have read 35-50 days is about the life of a leaf before it is nearly ready to drop. SWIM's plants may have a nice flush of green leaves, and then very soon, the oldest leaves of the flush starts getting yellow between the veins and edges. The newer leaves even have a slight mottling still, even after this great new flush (though the leaves are still greener than before). Most pictures I see of coca plants show that the stems are usually pretty bare with a flush of growth at the ends of the branches.

The E coca in general looks better than SWIM's E novo var novo. The novo is always deficient looking, and at best will put out a couple of healthy leaves before they quickly look mottled and yellow, then drop. Often, there will be a leaf drop after a watering, and a new flush of leaves will form. SWIM is hoping the increased fertilizer and higher pH will change that. It's not unusual for things to be looking healthy only to swing back to sad in a few days.

I wonder how much others are watering novo and coca? SWIM waits until the pot is light, though there is still some moisture an inch or so in the soil. Then usually enough water is applied until there is some drainage. Fertilizer is used every watering as recomended on the label. There is very little salt build up in the drainage holes, so SWIM doesn't think overfertilization is a problem. Also, the plants have greened up since the fert amounts were increased. Still, I think the pH needs fine tuning. I'll try to find the pH article and post hte web address.

You are correct that E coca must have another coca plant for reproduction as they are self sterile. From what I have read, only E novo var novo is self fertile. A grower in Indonesia has only one plant, and has been offering seed of this plant for sale. He got his original seed from a single plant in a botanical garden, so these seeds are quite inbred. SWIM hopes to cross the Indonesian plants to E novo var truxillense, for the added hybrid vigor. It looks like one of SWIM's E coca plants has a berry trying to form. Most flowers drop after a few days of opening, but this one looks like it is swelling. The seeds of Erythroxylum for sale are often sent in the berry in moist straw or moss, and the berry is usually pretty rotten. I think the viability is higher with seed planted while still fresh, though it is good that you can dry them for the longer term.

Thanks for sharing those maps cakes. I have not had much time with the computer, so I haven't had much chance to study them

1000 MH. They are now 3-4 ' under the light

These lights can be kept closer for other plants but it might make it a little warmer than SWIM wants, huh? a cooling hood might not be a bad afternoon project for SWIM some day if he ever wanted to try that light at close distances; cooling hoods don't always work but usually they can let a light be within a foot or even inches of the plants.

Quote:You are correct that E coca must have another coca plant for reproduction as they are self sterile. From what I have read, only E novo var novo is self fertile.

actually I didn't know that and I am glad that I now do. thank you. In my comments above what I was trying to say is that clones are sterile. Cuttings are good because they mature fast, like their harvest can begin in half the time of a seed grown plant; so clones get used a lot, but the text I saw said that clones are sterile. So even though they may produce flowers in half the time that seed plants will, the seed from a clone lacks an embryonic center and so clone seed is not viable <or at least thought not to be by one text writer, because i haven't actually tried it personally and i have only seen it written in that one text so far.

Quote:Most pictures I see of coca plants show that the stems are usually pretty bare with a flush of growth at the ends of the branches.

This varies with strain. some have foliage at the ends but others have leaves along the lower branch as well.

Quote:I think I have read 35-50 days

that is not far off the time I have in my notes. mine says 2 - 6 times a year but i am pretty sure that it was specifically referring to outside cultivation. the variance, if water related, may be due to greater moisture in different elevations and/or the fact that some areas have more than one season where rainfall increases (like Bogota does).

Quote:I wonder how much others are watering novo and coca?

I was just looking at the weather charts for Bolivia and it looks like they might be moist all the time down there. They are getting the most water during their 'warmer' season rather than the winter like my house. Even the very tall mountain tops (too tall for coca) are getting four inches of water per month in their 'dry' season<<one inch a week is what garden books recommend for vegetable gardens, although i sure water a lot more.

Lower elevations like where coca is grown might get 2.5x the rainfall that the highest mountains do, like 70 inches a year rather than 20 inches. <<that higher figure is about right for veggies in my area.

I have seen text that says the ancestral variety of coca is found in "moist tropical forests". The Trujillo variety of novo is said to be more drought resistant. the fact that they called it drought resistant might mean that it tolerates drought rather than liking it. The Trujillo is thought to be maybe the daddy to the novo novo.

if the novo novo is linking it's flowering schedule to it's water supply then it may be revealing important things about it's horticultural nature. There is a class of plants that DO link their reproduction to their water/dry cycle. This class of plants can also share some other traits. like they can be sensitive to fertilizers during flower (can't take N (maybe other ferts too*) and they can be sensitive to pH (if they areen't acid or alkaline lovers then they may, alternatively, need cool temps to flower).
^all three of those traits are not always present in each plant that belongs in the class but they can be^.

I, personally, don't see ANY problem with a grow that naturally defoliates and regrows in a mad cycle. as long as the leaf product was good of course. Also the fact that their flowering is scanty right now isn't really call for alarm since they are so young and this plant is said to mature with age. But if (later) there is a prob and it is lack of prolonged flowering or needing a higher quality of flower, then maybe they need a more constant water supply and then plain water once flowering begins (plain since SWIM has good soil, not if SWIM didn't).

*maybe other ferts too>i say this because i realize my info is very short compared to what may be out there. i, personally, have noticed that any extra N can make a nice flowering plant stop it's flowering and begin another cycle. but i know little of other nutes in that respect except to say that it is also common for grapes not to be fed phosphorus><and grapes are kind of like drupes.

and outstanding soil choices btw. i gotta mention that. i was rereading your post and realized i got caught up on other stuff and never commented what great choices SWIM has in his mix.

We have been talking about what the native soils might be like down in South America and I have a bit more info to add about that. I saw a small note in a coca text about the Cuzco area not being high in iron. and I didn't mention it because I thought it was probably a small area and maybe just another one of those interesting anomalies that pop up. But I finally tracked it down a little and it seems that the area is actually dead center to where coca's ancestral home is down there. I say it is the home because i read coca originates from the "eastern Andes of Peru and Bolivia" so this place Cuzco is mid-latitude to both their borders and just to the east of line drawn up the middle of the Andes.

there are alternative spellings for Cuzco<one reason it took me a minute to begin looking at that area. my home map says Cusco. large lakes and wetlands to the east. Aridsols to the far south. huge rich valleys (possibly close to neutral in pH?).

[ Compilation of sources on coca cultivation]

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