Rainfall was mixed last week across Ivory Coast's cocoa-growing regions, bolstering hopes for a strong April-to-September mid-crop in some areas while others are in need of stronger rains, farmers have said.
The world’s top cocoa producer is in its rainy season, which runs from April to mid-November, with farmers reporting increased numbers of maturing beans as the harvest begins to pick up.
Some saw last week's dry weather as a positive development, adding that overall quality of the mid-crop would be improved by the ability to sun-dry beans early.
In regions where rainfall was above five-year averages, farmers were optimistic for a strong harvest. Some said that bean quality was in line with expectations, while others counted more pods of high quality than at the same time last year.
“If the rains are well distributed ... the pickings will be abundant in July compared with last year," said Prosper Assoumou, who farms in the southern region of Abengourou, where rainfall was 3 mm above average at 26.1 mm.
Across Ivory Coast's central regions, farmers reported harvests of 110 to 120 beans per 100 grams, compared with 90 to 105 beans for the main crop.
Where rainfall was below average, however, as in the western and southern regions of Soubre and Divo, farmers warned that poor rains during such a crucial period in the growth cycle could diminish the size of the mid-crop.
“If we do not have heavier rains this week, the trees may suffer from the high heat," said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre at the heart of the cocoa belt. Rainfall in Soubre was 6.1 mm below the average last week at 14.6 mm.
Last week's average daily temperatures ranged from 27.3 to 31.6 degrees Celsius.