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Ruiru 11 – Kenya’s strong coffee variety


Ruiru 11 – Kenya’s substantial coffee variety was created to fight pests and climate. In 2020, Kenya was Africa’s 5th largest coffee-growing country but this gradually decreased in the following years. Join 43 Factory Coffee Roaster to find out if Ruiru 11 can successfully fulfill its mission!


The Origin of Ruiru 11 


Previously, the popular coffee varieties in Kenya were SL-28 and SL-34. Although SL varieties are of high quality, they are susceptible to pests and diseases, making cultivation much more difficult.

Therefore, the urgent problem is to find new coffee varieties with high disease resistance and can adapt to Kenya’s climate. In that situation, Ruiru 11 – a high-yielding F1 dwarf hybrid with better resistance to some pests and diseases was born.

ruiru 11 coffee variety



Origin of coffee variety Ruiru 11


In the 1970s, a coffee station in Ruiru began to breed coffee varieties that were more resistant to disease while still guaranteeing good yields. Among them is Ruiru 11.

According to World Coffee Research, the variety was developed using genetic material from various breeds – including Catimor female parents and selected male parents K7, SL-28, N39, and Sudan Rume.

These varieties were chosen mainly for their higher resistance to CBD and coffee leaf rust (CLR) – a fungus that eventually kills coffee plants. However, besides disease resistance, these varieties also give Ruiru 11 a reputation for high yields and good coffee quality.

ruiru 11 coffee variety


When was Ruiru 11 first planted?


Ruiru 11 was first introduced to Kenyan coffee farmers in 1985.

Compared to other varieties that grow more slowly, Ruiru 11 usually produces its first crop two years after planting. The plants are small, so producers can grow more in a small area.

“I grow Ruiru 11 on some small plots of land,” said Watson Wanjau, a coffee farmer in Kenya. Because you can plant varieties that are closer together than others, such as SL-28 and SL-34, you can increase yields.”

In addition, he added that Ruiru 11 requires fewer fungicides and fertilizers than other popular varieties in Kenya.

Regarding the cultivation of this coffee variety, Watson suggests that producers grow Batian first. This is a cultivar that has some parentage with Ruiru 11. Then it will be easier for farmers to graft Ruiru 11 grafts into Batian’s root system.

ruiru 11 coffee variety


The popularity of Ruiru 11 in Kenya


Older farmers in Kenya are often concerned about growing more Ruiru 11. Because Ruira 11 and Batian have many differences in the way they grow. But on the contrary, farmers also benefit significantly from planting this variety. Under optimal conditions, producers can grow up to 3,000 plants per hectare.

Since certified Ruiru 11 seeds must be obtained from the Coffee Research Foundation in Kenya, there is a shortage of supply and demand. Many farmers have a need to plant this variety but cannot find seeds to plant.

ruiru 11 coffee variety


Difficulties in growing Ruiru 11


Ruiru 11 was created to increase resistance to pests and diseases, but because it is grown with other cultivars, there are still some unusual cases of CLR and CBD on the plants in Ruiru 11. However, the farmer does not need to. too worried about this because the effects of CBD on Ruiru 11 are usually not dangerous.

Besides a few unusual cases of CBD, Ruiru 11 is also sensitive to drought. Because its productivity is highly dependent on the amount of water, producers must have an alternative water source (system and large irrigation tank) if rainfall is lower than expected.

ruiru 11 coffee variety

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