Sparse rainfall in Ivory Coast cocoa regions to weaken the main crop, but high soil moisture in other areas was keeping the crop healthy

Sparse rainfall and strong sunshine last week in most of Ivory Coast cocoa regions threatened to weaken the main crop, but high soil moisture content in other areas was keeping the crop healthy, farmers said on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is now in its dry season, which runs from mid-November to March. The main crop, which opened in October, also runs to March.

Farmers said the weather was very hot and that they were hoping for one good rainfall before the dry, dusty Harmattan winds sweep in from the Sahara Desert in the coming weeks. When severe, the winds can harm cocoa pods, making them smaller.

The farmers said they expected significant harvesting to continue until late January and to start falling off by February.

In the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro and the centre-western region of Daloa, there was little or no rainfall over the past week and farmers were worried about the impact of a strong Harmattan on their trees.

“There is a risk that the beans start to be small in February,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed no rainfall in Daloa last week, 5.1 mm below the five-year average.

In Soubre in the west, Agboville and Divo in the south and Abengourou in the east, farmers said growing conditions were good because of the moist soil.

“This month there will be a peak in the harvest,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms in Soubre, which lies at the heart of the cocoa belt. Soubre received 1.9 mm of rain last week, 11.9 mm below the average.

Last week’s average daily temperatures ranged from 26.3 to 29.4 degrees Celsius.

Originally published at Reuters