Soil moisture helps Ivory Coast’s cocoa main crop grow

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Rains were below average last week in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions but the west African nation’s farmers said on Monday the soil was moist enough to help the next October-to-March main crop grow.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in its rainy season, which runs officially from April to mid-November. Rains are typically abundant during this period but they have been scarce in the last several weeks.

Farmers said they were happy with the weather as many flowers and small pods were proliferating on trees in plantations.

A good soil moisture content, morning dews and air humidity were enough to help the crop develop.

At this moment of the year, plantations don’t need abundant rainfall as too much moisture could trigger diseases and cause flowers and young fruits to fall from the trees, farmers said.

    In the western region of Soubre, in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were below average, farmers said the development of the main crop was proceeding at a good pace.

They added that less pods would be lost compared to last year when cocoa plantations were flooded during the rainy season.

“The main crop is developing well. Many farmers continue to maintain their plantations,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, where 1.2 millimetres (mm) fell last week, 36.9 mm below the five-year average.

In the west-central region of Daloa, in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were below average last week, farmers said flowers were turning into small pods, paving the way to a strong start of the main crop.

Farmers added that one adequate rainfall per week would be needed until the end of the month to strengthen the crop.

“We just need a little rain this month. Everything’s going well on the trees,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa, where 3.3 mm fell last week, 22 mm below the average.

    The weekly average temperature across Ivory Coast ranged from 24.8 to 27.2 degrees Celsius.

(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anait Miridzhanian and David Evans)


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