Abundant rainfall and sunny spells last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions are set to improve growing conditions to ensure a strong finish of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.
The marketing season for the mid-crop officially opened on April 1 and harvesting is picking up rapidly.
Farmers in most regions said the weather conditions should allow for robust output through to at least July.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, producing a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers said that the good weather conditions had helped produce large beans.
"There's a lot of sunshine. That will avoid problems and improve the quality," said farmer Desire M'Bra, who farms near Daloa.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 56 mm of rains, compared with 82 mm the previous week. Farmers said the weather would help the mid-crop to reach its maximum potential.
"Sun and the dampness of the soil offer ideal conditions for the mid-crop," said farmer Koffi Fouame, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.
In Issia, also in the west, farmers said that rains had eased after downpours caused damage in several cocoa plantations the previous week.
"The rainfall intervals have been good for the trees and there was sufficient sunshine," said the manager of a cooperative Issouf Kone.
"Farmers will have a good harvest this month and if the sun keeps shining, the quality of the beans will be good," he added.
Farmer and cooperative manager Francois Badiel in the western region of Gagnoa said he expected a bigger harvest than last season, provided it remains hot.
But he said that some farmers were struggling to dry the beans after heavy rains. "Buyers are complaining about the level of moisture in the beans," he said.
Similar concerns were reported in southern regions of Aboisso, Tiassale and Agboville.
In the coastal region of San Pedro, farmers said it rained every night over the last week, leading to difficulties access some plantations.
"Often work is slow because some of the roads are unpassable. But we are trying to adapt," said farmer Labbe Zoungrana, who farms near San Pedro.
(By Loucoumane Coulibal, Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Emma Farge)