July 1, 2019 / 2:45 PM / in 20 days

Ivory Coast farmers pin hopes for main cocoa crop on July weather

ABIDJAN, July 1 (Reuters) - Rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa regions was mainly below average and farmers on Monday said weather conditions this month would be crucial in determining the quality of the October-to-March main crop.

The April-to-September mid-crop was tailing off in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, as pods were scarce on trees, farmers said.

They said their focus was now on the weather for the October-to-March main crop. Plantations will need sufficient moisture and sun to produce the abundant flowers and cherelles needed for a strong start in October.

In the centre-western region of Daloa, and in the central areas of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, data collected by Reuters showed rains were above average and farmers said they were happy as flowering was promising.

“If the weather continues to be good this month we will start the main crop with lots of pods on the trees,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa, a region that accounts for a quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output.

Data showed that rainfall in Daloa, including the region of Bouafle, was 28.6 millimetres (mm) last week, 2.7 mm above the five-year average.

Rainfall in Bongounou was 50.4 mm last week, 22.4 mm above average, while Yamoussoukro received 31.7 mm, 6.2 mm above average.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, in the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and in the eastern region of Abengourou farmers said more flowers were appearing on trees although rainfall was below average.

“We’re not worried for the moment. The leaves are verdant and all the trees are in flower,” said Kouassi Kouame, who farms near Soubre.

Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Soubre, which includes the regions of Sassandra and San Pedro, was 40 mm last week, 4.5 mm below average. Rainfall in Agboville was at 40.8 mm last week, 8.3 mm below average.

Rainfall in Divo was 31.8 mm last week, 2.1 mm below average and rainfall in Abengourou was 39.3 mm, 9.1 mm below average.

Average temperatures ranged between 24 and 27.6 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Alessandra Prentice and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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