ABIDJAN, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Rains in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions were below average last week, allaying fears of flooding and crop diseases that had pre-occupied growers for much of the past month, farmers said on Monday.
Harvesting for the October-to-March main crop in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has started earlier than usual, and farmers expect it to pick up steadily over the next few weeks, leading to a larger output than last year’s.
But more sunny spells were needed to help beans dry and to strengthen the crop, while keeping diseases away, farmers said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers said the drop in rainfall would help the roots of trees to dry while producing more pods.
“We have had a bit of sunshine, and it is good the rain has subsided, it will make diseases less likely,” said Raphael Kouame, who farms near Daloa.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in the region of Daloa, which includes the region of Bouafle was 4.2 millimetres (mm) last week, 20.5 mm below the five-year average.
Rains were below average, to the relief of farmers who were overall satisfied with the weather in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, in the eastern region of Abengourou and in the western region of Man.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said plenty of small and average-sized pods on the trees meant most of the harvest would leave the plantations from November to January.
“A lot of farmers are harvesting. There will be plenty of beans to sell in October,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, was 8.7 mm last week, 4.9 mm below the five-year average.
Average temperatures ranged from 24.2 to 25.6 degrees Celsius, data showed. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Anna Pujol-Mazzini)