April 23, 2018 / 1:27 PM / a month ago

Abundant rains in Ivory Coast boost early mid-crop cocoa harvests

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Heavy rainfall in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions last week was positive for the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa pods are seen in a cocoa farm in Anyama, Ivory Coast July 21, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago/File Photo

Farmers said they were satisfied with mid-crop harvests so far, as plenty of dried beans were being shipped from the bush.

Yet they warned that the next two months would be crucial for the world’s top grower, as bouts of heavy rain that typically start in April could harm crops if they became regular.

“Big clouds are forming these days. We feel that rainfall will be abundant in the coming weeks,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt.

“There are still many flowers and cherelles on the trees. If the rhythm of the rains is good the mid-crop will finish with abundant harvests,” he said.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in the Soubre region was at 30.8 millimeters (mm) last week, 8.8 mm above average.

In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers hoped the rain would increase soil moisture content and improve the quality of cocoa beans.

“Every day buyers reject many deliveries because the beans are too small. They have asked us to sort them before selling,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms near Daloa.

“The soil is becoming humid and the sun is shining, so we hope the quality will improve over the next couple of months,” said Kouame.

Daloa received 31.1 mm of rain last week, 7.7 mm above average.

Farmers were also upbeat in southern regions of Agboville and Divo, in the western region of Duekoue and in the eastern region of Abengourou.

Data showed that 38.9 mm of rain fell last week in Man, which includes Duekoue, 16 mm above average.

The eastern region of Abengourou, which includes Aboisso, received 27.3 mm of rain last week, 3 mm above average.

But rainfall in Divo was 5mm below average, at 21.7 mm.

Temperatures also rose above average last week, ranging from 27.31 to 31.15 degrees Celsius (81.16-88.07°F).

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Louise Heavens

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