January 20, 2020 / 3:51 PM / a month ago

Patchy rains boost Ivory Coast's cocoa mid-crop - farmers

ABIDJAN, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Light showers in some of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions last week are likely to have boosted the April-to-September mid-crop, while heavier rain is needed elsewhere, farmers told Reuters on Monday.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is in its dry season, which runs from November to March, when rain tends to be scarce or light.

Farmers said the focus was switching to the April-to-September mid-crop, as the main crop was tailing off. They added rainfall in the coming weeks would help boost the growth of plenty of cherelles and small pods on trees for the mid-crop.

In the western region of Soubre, farmers were happy with the rainfall that should ensure a good start of the mid-crop in April.

“We were not expecting so much rain. It will not only improve the beans quality for the next couple of months but the start of the mid-crop will be good as well,” said Koffi Kouame, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.

Data collected by Reuters showed there was 8.5 millimetres (mm) of rain last week in Soubre, which includes the region of Sassandra and the region of San Pedro, 4.9 mm above the five-year average.

Rains were weak and below the five-year average in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou, but farmers there said the weather was good for cocoa trees.

“With this dry weather even a small rainfall is good for the flowers and cherelles’ growth,” said Herve Anani, who farms in the eastern region of Abengourou, which received 1.8 mm last week, 1.2 mm below the five-year average.

In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said the lack of adequate rain mixed with hot weather could weigh on the harvest’s quality in February and March.

“The ground is drying out. We need rain or the pods will grow smaller in the next couple of months,” said Bernard Assi, who farms near Bongouanou, where rainfall was at 0.1 mm last week, 0.7 mm below the average.

Temperatures on average ranged from 29 to 29.9 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Mark Potter)

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