April 8, 2019 / 2:59 PM / 16 days ago

Ivory Coast rains to boost cocoa mid-crop, winds raise concern

ABIDJAN, April 8 (Reuters) - Above-average rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions should boost the April-September mid-crop but strong winds are worrying, farmers said on Monday, after weeks of dryness.

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, is now in the rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October. Abundant showers are expected to begin this month.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of the national output, farmers welcomed recent rainfall as they hope it will help small pods grow bigger.

“We still need abundant rainfall this month for pods and beans to be bigger in the next couple of months,” said Serge N’Da, who farms near Daloa. “The harvest is going on well.”

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was at 24.1 millimetres last week, 3.9 mm above the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre, farmers said plenty of pods were ripening on trees thanks to good weather, but strong winds following rains threatened flowers and cherelles.

“The winds are really strong. They can make flowers and cherelles fall from the trees and reduce the harvest,” Florent Beda, who farms near Soubre, said.

“If everything goes well, there will be more harvesting in May and June and the mid-crop won’t stop until September,” he added.

Rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was at 26.5 mm last week, 8.7 mm above average.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said it had rained so much it was difficult to get cocoa out of the plantations.

“Roads have become impracticable, we leave with the cocoa slowly. There is a risk beans will get very humid,” Etienne Yao, who farms near Aboisso, said.

Rainfall in Abengourou, including the region of Aboisso, was at 28.2 mm last week, 7.8 mm above average.

Rainfall was above average in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where farmers said the moisture would boost the crop.

Average temperatures ranged between 28.2 and 31.6 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Dale Hudson)

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