September 11, 2017 / 2:58 PM / 13 days ago

Ivory Coast weather positive for most of cocoa main crop

ABIDJAN, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Scattered rain and average sun in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa regions last week will boost growth of the main crop, but black pod disease is spreading in some areas due to cloudy weather, farmers said on Monday.

The harvest for the October-to-March crop in the world’s top producer is expected to start as early as next week.

Farmers said there were enough beans on the trees to last until December, but good weather from now through October will determine whether the harvest extends into next year.

Data collected by Reuters showed that in the past week rainfall in the centre-western Daloa region including Bouafle reached 38.5 millimetres, or 8.5 mm above average.

Rain in the western Soubre region including San Pedro and Sassandra was at 17.4 mm, or 0.7 mm above average, and in the western region of Man it was at 55.4 mm, 17.2 mm above average.

Forecast average temperatures ranged from 25 to 28 degrees, slightly hotter than the week before.

In the Soubre region, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported light rain and average sunny spells.

“We can start harvesting next week. There are lots of pods on the trees that are almost ripe,” said Salame Kone, who farms near Soubre, adding that more heat is needed to improve the bean quality.

Good growing conditions were reported in the western regions of Duekoue and Gagnoa and in the southern regions of Agboville and Tiassale.

But in the southern regions of Aboisso and Divo, farmers said heavy rain and overcast skies had caused an outbreak of fungal black pod disease.

“We need lots of sun, or else the losses will be huge in the next two weeks,” said Etienne Yao, who farms in the outskirts of Aboisso.

In Daloa, which produces about a quarter of national output, plantations were hit with black pod disease the week before last, but strong sun at the weekend was expected to help.

“There are cases of black pod but we think with this sunny weather it will improve,” said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and Susan Fenton)

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