November 6, 2017 / 12:35 PM / a month ago

Ivory Coast weather promising for cocoa harvest

ABIDJAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Light rain and sunshine boosted cocoa crops in Ivory Coast, the world’s top exporter, last week, although Harmattan winds could affect harvests, farmers said on Monday. The cocoa season started on Oct. 1, but the bulk of crops will be harvested between now and January. Farmers said the recent downpours would help reinforce soil moisture ahead of the dry season, which runs from mid-November to March.

“If we have a little bit of rain every week until the end of this month, we will not have quality problems in February,” said Lazare Ake, who farms in the outskirts of the Soubre region, in the heart of the western cocoa belt.

“If the Harmattan does not come too early and is not too strong, we will have a lot of good quality cocoa in February and March,” said Roger Ballo, who farms in the outskirts of the southern region of Divo.

Harmattan winds sweep down from the Sahara from December to March. Strong winds can damage pods and sap soil moisture, which reduces the size of cocoa beans.

Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Divo was at 30.4 millimetres, 12 mm above average. Rain in the Soubre region, which includes Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 24.8 mm, 6 mm above average. Rainfall in Daloa was at 14.6 mm, 3.2 mm above average.

In the southeastern region of Aboisso, data showed that rainfall was 8.6 mm, 1.3 mm below the average.

Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions are currently seeing high temperatures, ranging from 25.7 degrees Celsius to 28.9 degrees last week. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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