ABIDJAN, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Heavy rains across most of Ivory
Coast's cocoa-growing regions last week have rekindled hopes for
an early start to the October-to-March main crop, farmers said
The world's top cocoa producer is in its rainy season, which
runs from April to mid-November.
After several weeks of cold weather and below-average
rainfall, farmers across the cocoa belt welcomed last week's
storms with enthusiasm.
If similar weather stretches into September and October, it
could bode well for the size and duration of the upcoming main
crop, farmers said.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a
quarter of Ivory Coast's national cocoa output, farmers said
their trees were heavy with fruits of different sizes. Some are
already planning to begin harvesting by mid-September.
"The main crop is looking good. With a lot of sun and rain
in the coming weeks, we will have a lot of picking to do in
October," said Jean Akessi, who farms near Daloa, where 51.4
millimetres (mm) of rain fell last week, nearly double the
Rainfall was also well above average in the central regions
of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where farmers expressed similar
enthusiasm for the main crop.
Others stressed that while good rains are important,
adequate sunshine would also be needed to ensure healthy
In the western region of Soubre, the southern regions of
Agboville and Divo, and the eastern region of Abengourou,
farmers said more sunny spells would be needed in order to stop
disease from spreading through their plantations.
"There is too much moisture under the trees. More heat will
be needed for enough pods to survive," said Salame Kone, who
farms near Soubre, where 20.2 mm of rain fell last week, 5.2 mm
above the average.
Average temperatures across Ivory Coast last week ranged
from 24.6 to 26.7 degrees Celsius.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Cooper Inveen
and Jan Harvey)