Ivory Coast sunny weather supports next main cocoa crop - farmers

ABIDJAN, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions were below average but dew and good soil moisture content augured well for the next October-to-March main crop, farmers told Reuters on Monday.

The April-to-September mid-crop is tailing off, and farmers are now focusing on the next main crop, which runs officially from October to March.

Farmers across most of cocoa regions said they were happy with the better mix of sun and rain, adding that lots of pods in their plantations were now well formed and almost ripe.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, although rainfall was below average, farmers said they were confident on the length of the main crop because of the proliferation of small pods or ‘cherelles’.

“There are good pods and we had lots of dew and fine rain. Cocoa likes that,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms near Soubre. “The trees will need good rains and good sun in September to consolidate (these gains),” he added.

Cocoa needs a delicate mix of sun and rain to thrive: too little rain and it wilts; too little sun, and pods fail to flourish and become susceptible to disease.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra was at 7.8 millimetres (mm) last week, 7.2 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers were happy with the improved of the sun and forecast a good start of the next main crop in southern region of Agboville and Divo, in the eastern region of Abengourou, and in western region of Man, where rainfall was below average last week.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, producing the quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, cocoa planter Albert N’Zue said strong volumes of beans would come out of the bush in October compared with last year in the region.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was 27.9 mm last week, 1.8 mm above average.

In central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, rainfall was above average last week, farmers there remained confident in a strong crop.

Average temperatures ranged from 24-25.7 degrees Celsius, data showed. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Tim Cocks)