Cocoa farmers said on Monday weeks of abundant rain in most of Ivory Coast's principal growing regions will likely ensure good bean quality and robust harvesting into July as long as there is no flooding or outbreaks of disease.
The marketing season for the April-to-September mid-crop officially opened on April 1 and harvesting is picking up rapidly.
Analysts now predict a better than expected crop in West Africa after forecasts of a supply deficit boosted prices 20 percent last year, and cocoa futures were lower on Monday on the region's improved mid-crop prospects.
July cocoa on ICE fell $11 or 0.4 percent to $2,853 a tonne after earlier equalling a three-month low of $2,849 set on Thursday. July cocoa on Liffe fell 12 pounds or 0.7 percent to 1,779 pounds a tonne.
In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of Ivory Coast's cocoa belt, an analyst reported 119 millimetres of rain last week up from 62 mm the week before.
"The cocoa is still coming out in big volumes and we expect large beans over a long period in this region," said Soubre farmer Salam Kone.
"It's raining abundantly and the showers are closer together. At this pace we're worried there will be flooding and some trees will be under water," he added.
In the western region of Duekoue, farmers reported five heavy showers during the week.
"There is a lot of moisture on the plantations. We are afraid that it may attract insects which could attack and destroy the pods," said farmer and cooperative manager Amara Kone.
"We need a lot more sunshine in the coming weeks because there are plenty of cherelles (small pods) and medium-size pods to ensure a long harvest," he said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, responsible for a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers said they expected harvesting to peak in June before tailing off in July.
"We are feeling the mid-crop here now. There is a lot of good quality cocoa leaving the bush," said Daloa farmer Attoungbre Kouame.
Good weather conditions were also reported in the southern regions of Agboville, Aboisso and Divo and in the western region of Gagnoa and Meagui.
In the coastal region of San Pedro, farmers reported two abundant showers.
"There are small, still fragile pods on the trees. We need good rains and sunshine until the end of this month to ensure a strong harvest in June and July," said Tchorna Silue, who farms near San Pedro.
(By Loucoumane Coulibaly, Editing by Joe Bavier, editing by David Evans)