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Author Topic: Pruning Catha edulis  (Read 2966 times)

JMZ

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Pruning Catha edulis
« on: November 08, 2016, 01:23:47 am »

I have several C. edulis from seed and cuttings, all about a year old. They are all doing well and grew a lot last summer. Now I have brought them in for the winter. Some, maybe all of them will end up in a spare bathroom in my basement under a 250 CFL, along with the selected few Kratom plants that I want to keep from going dormant. I can clearly see that my khats have both alternate and opposite growth patterns, and I can see the first suckers too. I've read on another forum that khat should be heavily pruned to encourage the alternate growth pattern, resulting in red stems which is said to be desirable. I have also read somewhere else that only cuttings with the alternate pattern will root. My plants from cuttings have some long and lanky limbs with the opposite pattern growing out to the sides, so I was thinking that I'll probably cut them back at some point and try to root the clippings. I was wondering if anybody here has any advice on this subject?
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Mangrove

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JMZ

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Re: Pruning Catha edulis
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2016, 05:19:46 pm »

I've read that thread on the Lycaeum many times over the past few months. He describes a very specific pruning process, but I really wasn't sure what he was talking about. He was a professional khat farmer, and he is a member here, was hoping he could chime in with some pictures. I do appreciate the links you provided, I'll check into them fully.
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cunningplatypus

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Re: Pruning Catha edulis
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2016, 03:08:40 pm »

I interviewed K for an issue of Dragibus several years ago. This was back in the day when khat was still legal to grow in South Africa. Here's what he said about pruning, though I'm not sure it's exactly what you're looking for:
.............................................................................................
CP: What were the biggest challenges of your farm?

K: The biggest challenge, other than stealing, was to make sure the staff pruned correctly, incorrect picking was more destructive than insects or stealing, we were in a temperate zone so the weather had no role to play.

CP: Who were your customers?

K: Somalians, Ethiopians, Yemenites, Kenyans, and one white guy, a German who started chewing in London, we had no local South African customers, a point lost on the authorities who saw us as a threat. To what I am not quite sure.

CP: Can you speak a bit about the plant itself, how it was picked, its potency, etc.

K: It is all in the shoots. The leaves are merely a garnishing once they have changed to green, the fresh leaf at the pre-chlorophyll stage and the bark of the stem are highest in cathinone.
We typically start harvesting after a two year period. I have heard from Yemenites that they wait until the tree is four years old, some Ethiopians say after seven years only. We kept ours to a hedge about 3ft high because most of the growth is concentrated in the top two feet of the plant any way it makes no sense to allow it to grow taller and then battle to try and pick, if allowed to grow this tree will reach a height 10m+.
Potency is definitely increased by continuous picking and picking back to the same point every time, cathinone is produced in response to being picked. 
(We harvested) all the time.  the first time you approach the plant to prune, you only prune a quarter of the plant, a week later the next quarter and so on, by the time you finished last quarter first one is ready to pick, and so the cycle continues, for as long as growing conditions are suitable, which include water season and feeding.  In tropical areas, there is a 30% drop in winter if the temp drops significantly.  Frost will destroy all the soft shoots but not the hard leaves.  Because the plants sucker continuously, a plant can live forever.

CP: Is khat self-fertile? How old are plants when they flower/produce seed? There are some pervasive rumors on the Internet that khat cannot be reproduced by seed. This is demonstrably false, though why do you think these rumors abound?

K: Yes, from about five years old. From what I have worked out using logic, most of our info on khat was from Kenya and Yemen, and both these countries have been cultivating khat for longer than we have a written history about, they have established lands and could triple their growing stock from suckers alone, so why leave plants to flower?  Their pruning regime would not allow flowering, and flowering also halts the shooting process as energy is diverted to the flowering and fruiting process.  I have met Arabs who did not even know the plants produced seed.  It is only with the advent of the Internet that people like myself could get this info out. 
...

In retrospect, I wish I had asked many more detailed questions about pruning, but hopefully this helps. As you pointed out, K is a member here, and perhaps he will chime in at some point. 
 
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JMZ

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Re: Pruning Catha edulis
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2016, 03:05:59 am »

Thanks! That is exactly what I was looking for!
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