Scattered rain in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions will help the April-to-September cocoa mid-crop though hot weather in other areas threatened to hurt the harvest, farmers said on Monday.
The dry season in the world's top cocoa producer runs from mid-November to March, during which downpours are scarce with February and March normally the hottest months. Exporters and pod counters have predicted record cocoa production of nearly 2 million tonnes this season due to good weather. But farmers said they would need at least one downpour per week for good pod growth while the heat continues. In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported light rain and sunshine last week.
"We need heavier rain because it is very hot and the water evaporates quickly from the soil," said Lazare Ake, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre. "We have enough flowers and small pods to produce a good mid-crop. But the soil can't be too dry."
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of national output, farmers reported one heavy downpour and abundant sunshine. "The leaves are starting to turn green on some plantations. If the rain continues to be good we will have enough flowers and pods on the trees in April," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms on the outskirts of Daloa.
He said, though, that he was worried some beans might be small because the rain came late. Farmers reported light rain and hot temperatures in the western region of Gagnoa while in the western region of Bouafle farmers said some leaves were drying out.
"It is too hot. This is not good for the cocoa ... it could reduce the harvest by killing flowers and small pods," said Parfait Ayo, who farms on the outskirts of Gagnoa.
Farmers reported good growing conditions in the southern regions of Aboisso and Agboville and in the western region of Duekoue, and one heavy downpour in Abengourou in the east.