August 8, 2017 / 1:25 PM / 12 days ago

Ivory Coast weather mixed for cocoa, some farmers fear disease

ABIDJAN, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Light rain and sun last week in some of Ivory Coast's main cocoa-growing regions boosted prospects for the October-to-March main crop though persistent overcast weather in other areas raised fears of disease, farmers said on Tuesday.

More sun is needed across the world's top cocoa producer to dry up the moisture in the soil left by heavy rains in June and July, farmers said.

In the western region of Soubre at the heart of the cocoa belt farmers reported scattered rain and average sun last week.

"Compared to the previous week, the sunshine has improved a little and the trees are doing well, with lots of flowers and small pods," said Koffi Kouame, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre. "If the sun gets stronger in the coming weeks, the main crop harvest will be long and of good quality."

Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern region of Divo, the western region of Duekoue, and the eastern region of Abengourou.

But weather was cool and overcast in the centre-western region of Daloa, which accounts for about a quarter of national output, and in the southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville, and Tiassale.

"If the coolness and lack of sun persist there is a risk of black pod disease, which would reduce the harvest," said Albert N'Zue, a farmer near Daloa.

"For the moment, we have lots of pods on the trees that we will be able to harvest starting in mid-September if the weather is good," he said. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; editing by Nellie Peyton and David Clarke)

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