July 6, 2015 / 4:37 PM / 2 years ago

Ivory Coast weather conditions threaten next season's cocoa

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Heavy rain and overcast conditions in the past week threaten to damage the early flowering for next season's cocoa main crop in some of Ivory Coast's growing regions, farmers said on Monday.

The world's top cocoa producer is currently harvesting its April-to-September mid-crop, and arrivals reached 1,575,000 tonnes by July 5, down from 1,605,000 tonnes in the same period of the previous season.

The flowers for next season's cocoa are beginning to appear on trees and farmers are turning their attention to the next October-to-March main crop harvest.

Plantations now require an adequate mix of rainfall and sunshine to ensure the development of next season's cocoa.

In Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported no rain had fallen for the second consecutive week.

"We've not had enough sunshine ... We're starting to worry," said Soubre farmer Koffi Kouame. "The main crop flowers are starting to come out. We need sun, otherwise the flowers will fall off and the start of the main crop will be weak."

In the western region of Duekoue, farmers complained of heavy rain.

"The young flowers cannot handle the heavy rains. A lot of flowers have fallen. If it continues like this, there will be little cocoa in October," said farmer and cooperative manager Amara Kone, adding that mid-crop beans were not affected.

In the southern region of Aboisso, farmers said moisture levels were high but it was too soon to be worried.

"For the moment it is good. But we'll need a lot of sun in the coming weeks," said Aboisso farmer Etienne Yao.

Farmers in the southern regions of Agboville, Divo and Tiassale, and in the western regions of Gagnoa, and Meagui reported good early flowering for the next main crop.

In the coastal regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, farmers complained that the moisture was resulting in high mould levels in beans currently leaving plantations.

"We can't dry them. Most of the beans are mouldy," said farmer Tchorna Silue. "If there is sun this month, the main crop could get off to a good start."

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Joe Bavier and David Evans

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