Rainfall was at or below five-year averages in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week, but the soil's high moisture content should keep hopes alive for strong main-crop output, farmers have said.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is entering the dry season in which downpours are poor or scarce from about mid-November to March.
The main crop will be in its final stage from February to March. Farmers hope uncharacteristically heavy rains that lasted until last week will keep plants adequately hydrated until then.
Some farmers told Reuters that a steady supply of well-dried and quality beans are expected as the harvest begins to pick up. The volume of beans will be important to monitor through the coming months, they said.
In the western region of Soubre and the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were average and slightly above average respectively, farmers said rainfall was sufficient to maintain development of next year's harvest.
“There will be no problem with harvesting until late January. Plenty of big pods are almost ripe,” said Denis Tokpa, who farms near Soubre, where 17.3 millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, in line with the five-year average.
In the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, where rains were below average, farmers said growing conditions were good and buyers were happy with the quality of beans.
Rains were below average in the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, but farmers said the soil moisture content was adequate.
Light rains through December would strengthen their expectations for a strong main-crop finish, but the looming Harmattan season, when dust sweeps down from the Sahara desert from December to March, could lead to excessive dryness.
Average temperatures ranged from 27.3 to 30.3 Celsius degrees in Ivory Coast last week.
Earlier this month, Ivory Coast stopped sales of export contracts for the current 2021/22 season as the harvest was on track to come in 10% below last year.