ABIDJAN, Dec 9 (Reuters) - Mainly below average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions had farmers worried about the rising heat, despite a good soil moisture content, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is now in the dry season, which runs from November to March when rain is scarce or light.
Farmers said tree foliage was green and soil moisture still high enough to boost the October-to-March main crop, but plantations would need good rainfall in the coming weeks.
They remained optimistic for harvesting in January.
“For now there is no damage. But the heat can dry up the soils if there is no good rainfall,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms in the outskirts of the centre-western region of Daloa.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle, was 2.2 millimetres (mm) last week, 2.6 mm below the five-year average.
Similar comments were reported in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where rainfall was below average. Farmers there said they thought the dry Harmattan wind was coming as they felt a cool wind in the air.
Harmattan winds sweep in sand from the Sahara, which can ravage cocoa pods and sap soil moisture, damaging bean size.
However in the western region of Soubre farmers said the weather was promising for good harvests after January.
“If we have a good downpour next week, we can expect a large harvest starting in February,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.
In Soubre in the west, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, data showed rainfall last week was 14.3 mm, 1.2 mm above the five-year average.
Farmers were happy in the southern region of Divo, where rainfall was 11.1 mm last week, 1.5 mm above average. Although rains were below average in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the southern region of Agboville, farmers there said the crop prospects remained good.
Average temperatures ranged from 26.4 to 29.4 Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and David Evans)