September 25, 2017 / 2:00 PM / 2 years ago

Ivory Coast weather mostly good as cocoa harvest starts

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The size and quality of Ivory Coast’s cocoa main crop will be boosted by last week’s mixture of sunshine and rain in primary cocoa-growing regions, farmers said on Monday, though too much rain has caused black pod disease to spread in other areas.

A farmer carries cocoa pods at a cocoa farm in Agboville, Ivory Coast April 24, 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Harvesting for the October-to-March main crop has begun and should last until February at least if good weather continues through October, said farmers in the world’s top cocoa producer.

Growers are stockpiling their beans until the official start of the season on Oct. 1, when the government will set a new minimum price that is expected to be slightly higher than the current one, farmers said. [nL5N1LU3L3]

“We have rain and sun. It’s good and we think the harvest will be long and abundant,” said Amara Kone, who farms on the outskirts of the western region of Duekoue.

In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said that harvesting was slow but would pick up gradually to reach its maximum by December.

“There is lots of sun. We hope it will continue so that we can dry the first beans well,” said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre. “The beans are currently very big and of good quality. They will sell well.”

But in the western region of Man and centre-western region of Daloa, which produces about a quarter of national output, farmers said that black pod disease was spreading.

“It is raining regularly. Many of the cocoa trees are affected by rot. There will be losses,” said Albert N’Zue, who farms near Daloa.

In the past week rainfall in the Daloa region including Bouafle reached 34.5 mm, which is 3.9 mm above average levels, according to data collected by Reuters.

In the southern Soubre region including San Pedro and Sassandra, rainfall hit 11.1 mm, or 8.9 mm below average, and in Man it was at 34.8 mm, 0.9 mm below average.

Forecast average temperatures ranged from 26.1 to 27.5 degrees Celsius, higher than the previous week.

Good growing conditions were reported in the southern regions of Agboville, Divo and Tiassale.

Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and David Goodman

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