October 29, 2018 / 2:35 PM / 10 months ago

Ivory Coast rain boosts cocoa crop; disease worries emerge

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Above average rainfall in Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions could improve the crop size next year, farmers said on Monday, although early signs of rain-induced black pod disease worried some.

Farmers work on cocoa pods at a farm in Toumodi, Ivory Coast October 13, 2018. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Soil moisture content is high and farmers said they were confident of an abundant harvest during the October-to-March main crop. The length and severity of the dry season, which runs from November to late February, will determine how well the crop does in the later months, they said.

“It’s nice when you look at the trees in the plantations. They carry many well-formed pods,” said Joel Ambe, who farms in the southern region of Divo.

Some cases of black pod fungus were reported, particularly in low-land plantations in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the southern region of Agboville.

Farmers there said the impact of the disease was so far limited but that dry weather was needed soon to stem the spread.

“It’s raining heavily, which is abnormal in this period,” said Patrice Aka, who farms near Agboville. “If the two weeks ahead are still rainy, crop losses will be significant,” he said.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Divo was 28.6 millimeters (mm) last week, 8.1 mm above the five-year average. Rainfall in Soubre, including Sassandra and San Pedro, was 28.8 mm last week, 9 mm above the five-year average.

Farmers were happy with the weather in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output. Rainfall in Daloa, which includes the Bouafle region, was 14.5 mm last week, 0.5 mm below the five-year average.

Rainfall in Agboville was 31 mm last week, 7.3 mm above the five-year average.

In Abengourou, which includes the region of Aboisso, rainfall was 25.2 mm last week, 0.9 mm above the five-year average.

Rain in the central region of Bongouanou reached 9.6 mm, 6.4 mm below average. In the central region of Yamoussoukro it was 13.6 mm, 1.9 mm below average.

In the western Man region, rainfall was 18.7 mm, 2.8 mm above average.

Average temperatures in the cocoa-growing regions ranged from 26.17 to 28.11 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Edward McAllister and David Evans

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