August 26, 2019 / 2:04 PM / 25 days ago

Ivory Coast rain helps cocoa crop, disease appears - farmers

ABIDJAN, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Above-average rain last week was expected to boost the start of Ivory Coast’s October-to-March main cocoa crop but high humidity has aided the spread of disease, farmers said on Monday.

The main crop is expected to start next week, earlier than usual, but farmers said more sun was needed to dry the beans and keep black pod disease at bay. They deemed the situation not yet alarming.

Farmers forecast a better harvest next month compared with the previous season because of the weather. The decent amount of rain could cause trees to flower again and keep crops healthy into next year, they said.

“The first pickings are in place. They will be abundant. The next rains will guarantee next year’s pickings,” said Henri Zogbo, who farms in the western region of Soubre.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of national output, farmers said the mix of flowers, cherelles and average pods was better compared with last year.

“Enough pods have matured. Picking will begin in many plantations starting next week,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms in Daloa.

Data collected by Reuters showed 34.4 millimetres of rainfall last week in Daloa, 7.1 mm above the five-year average. In Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, there was 12.7 mm of rain, 2.3 mm below the five-year average.

Average temperatures ranged from 23.44 to 25.15 degrees Celsius, data showed. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Edward McAllister and Dale Hudson)

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