April 16, 2018 / 2:15 PM / 9 days ago

Heavy rainfall could damage Ivory Coast cocoa mid-crop

ABIDJAN, April 16 (Reuters) - Heavy rainfall could damage Ivory Coast’s April-September cocoa mid-crop, farmers said on Monday, as soil moisture content is high and trees are loaded with fragile flowers and cherelles.

The primary concern for farmers in recent months has been a lack of rainfall, but after a couple of weeks of downpours farmers in the world’s top cocoa producer are now hoping for less rain to protect yields as the harvest begins.

Heavy rain is expected to start along coastal regions this month and gradually spread across the country.

“Many trucks are delivering to exporters at the moment,” said Lazare Ake, who farms in the Soubre region.

“We are worried strong rains will be announced before the end of this month. They risk making many cherelles and flowers fall,” he said.

So far, the signs for the mid-crop have been positive.

Data collected by Reuters showed there was 11.8 millimetres of rain in Soubre last week, 8 mm below average. Soil moisture content was at 292.9 mm in March, above the average of 238.7 mm.

In the western region of Duekoue, farmers were upbeat.

“Here the mid-crop will be long. There is a mix of small pods and big pods on the trees,” said Amara Kone, who farms in the outskirts of Duekoue.

“The soil is moist and trees have already yielded a lot compared to the same period last year,” he said.

Data showed there was 6.2 mm of rain in Man, which includes Duekoue, last week, 15.7 mm below average. Soil moisture was at 270.1 mm in March, above the average of 248.6 mm.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, farmers said more rain was needed this month to increase the size of beans.

Daloa received 10.9 mm of rain last week, 11.2 mm below average. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Sofia Christensen and Mark Potter)

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