Rainfall was below average last week in most of Ivory Coast's cocoa growing regions but good soil moisture content was helping the development of trees for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said.
However, some farmers in the world's top cocoa growing nation are reluctant to harvest the abundant pods on trees in the last stage of the ongoing October-to-March main crop due to an oversupply of beans and a lack of buyers.
"There is discouragement. If we carry out the harvest, how are we going to pay the workers," said Basile Yavo, who farms near the southern region of Agboville where 5 millimetres (mm) fell last week, 2.5 mm above the five-year average.
Ivory Coast is in the middle of its dry season, which runs from mid-November to March, when rainfall is poor or scarce.
Farmers said they were optimistic about the outlook for the mid-crop as plenty of cherelles were turning into small pods thanks to a good weather since December.
They added that cocoa trees were carrying more small pods compared with last year in the same period.
Farmers in Agboville and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where 10.7 mm fell last week, 7.7 mm above the average said the weather was fine for the mid-crop.
Favourable growing conditions were reported in western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, and in the southern region of Divo, where rainfall was below average.
In the centre-west region of Daloa and the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was also below average, farmers said the dry Harmattan wind from the Sahara was mild and came late this season.
"We hope that the Harmattan will not be too harsh," said Esmel Bile, who farms near Daloa, where no rain fell last week.
The dry, dusty Harmattan winds sweeps in from the Sahara in December through to March. The winds can ravage pods and sap soil moisture when severe, making beans in pods smaller. Last week's average daily temperatures ranged from 26.6 to 29.5 degrees Celsius.