Rain mixed with sunny spells last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions helped the development of plentiful small pods, suggesting a strong start to the next main crop as the mid-crop tails off, farmers said on Monday.
The mid-crop opened on April 1 in the world's top cocoa grower and harvesting traditionally starts to decline from mid-July. The main crop of the 2014-2015 season will begin in October and runs until March.
With flowers already proliferating on plantations, farmers said they now were looking for adequate rainfall mixed with sunny spells to allow the development of many of these buds into small pods to boost the upcoming main crop.
In the western region of Soubre, in the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 25 mm of rain, compared with 10 mm the previous week. Farmers said although harvesting had fallen sharply they would collect significant volumes of pods until August.
"Flowering is continuing in good conditions and if all these flowers turn into small pods, we will have a lot of cocoa at the start of the next main crop," said farmer Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre.
Exporters estimated on Monday that cocoa arrivals at ports in Ivory Coast were running at 1,668,000 tonnes as of July 20, up from 1,368,000 tonnes a year earlier.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, that produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported one light rain mixed with two days of good sunny spells.
"Planters are tending their plantations, uprooting weeds, for a good development of the main crop. It's that time of year," said farmer Abel Konan, who farms in the outskirts of Daloa. "There are lots of small pods and flowers on the trees compared with the same period of last year."
In the eastern region of Abengourou, farmers reported no rainfall in the spell but said the weather was supporting the growth of the main crop because of a high soil moisture content.
"There are already some small pods and the flowering is continuing well," said farmer Marcellin N'Da, who farms on the outskirts of Abengourou. "Lots of farmers are applying products to their plantations to combat insects and disease."
In coastal regions of San Pedro and Sassandra, farmers reported several light rains in the spell, following recent rains that damaged roads and cut off access to farms.
"There are lots of pods which have rotted on the trees," said Labbe Zoungrana, who farms near San Pedro. "There will be a lot more of the crop lost because we cannot get out production out."
(By Loucoumane Coulibaly, Reporting By Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Daniel Flynn and David Evans)