April 29, 2019 / 2:33 PM / 21 days ago

Ivory Coast dry weather could shorten cocoa mid-crop

ABIDJAN, April 29 (Reuters) - Below-average rain in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week could reduce the size and quality of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

The rainy season in the world’s top cocoa producer runs from mid-March to late October, with heavy showers expected to begin this month.

Farmers said harvests were intensifying and that trees were laden with pods.

But in the centre-western region of Daloa, and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said they did not expect crops to yield many large and high-quality beans due to the dry weather.

“Near-ripening pods are small, and so are the beans we harvested,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

“Some trees are starting to weaken. We need it to start raining for things to change in the next three months.”

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 2.6 millimetres last week, 21.4 mm below the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported no significant impact on the mid-crop but said it would be longer and more abundant if it rained more in May.

“The weather is menacing these days. If it starts raining abundantly, trees will produce well and the harvest will be long,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre.

Data showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 3.2 mm last week, 21.5 mm below the five-year average.

Farmers remained optimistic in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou - the only area that experienced above-average rainfall last week.

Average temperatures ranged between 27.9 and 31.5 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Dale Hudson)

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