ABIDJAN, March 13 (Reuters) – Mainly above average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions were favourable for the April-to-September mid-crop, which is expected to start early and to be bigger than last year’s output, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season which runs officially from mid-November to March, when rains are poor and scarce.
Farmers across the country said last week’s moisture would strengthen the development of fruit as plenty of average-sized and other pods were almost ripe on the trees.
Farmers said they now had a good sight of the mid-crop, which would start slowly by next week and pick up from mid-April. They added that the main part of the mid-crop would be done between May and June but significant volumes of beans would leave the bush in July and August.
“The last rains will help the trees a lot. The harvest will begin tentatively next week,” said Salame Kone, who farms near the western region of Soubre, where 18.3 millimetres (mm) fell last week, 7.3 mm above the five-year average.
Similar comments were made in the southern region of Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were well above the average. Rains were below the average in the southern region of Divo, but farmers said rainfall had been just right for the development of pods.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, where rains were below the average, and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rains were well above the average last week, farmers said they were happy with the weather but more downpours during the coming weeks would help tiny cocoa pods to survive as the weather remained too hot.
“If we have at least two abundant rains well distributed this month, many small pods will reach maturity for plentiful harvests of the mid-crop,” said Celestin Affessi, who farms near Bongouanou, where 23.8 mm fell last week, 9.2 mm above the average.
Average temperatures ranged from 28.1 to 32.4 degrees Celsius in Ivory Coast last week.
Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Anait Miridzhanian and Hugh Lawson
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