ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Light rains in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions augur well for the crop in the world's biggest producer, farmers said on Monday, but cloudy weather has stoked fears of disease in the south.
Farmers need the right mix of rain and sunny spells in July and August to strengthen the development of pods and avoid cocoa rot and disease ahead of the main crop, which runs from October to March.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 65 millimeters of rain last week, compared with no rain the previous week.
"We are happy with the rain. It will help many small pods to grow and to be of good quality for the main crop," said Kouassi Kouame, a cocoa farmer on the outskirts of Soubre.
"There are enough middle pods on the trees to ensure good pickings from October."
In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's cocoa, farmers reported one heavy downpour.
"Many small pods are now growing because the weather is good," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa.
In the southern region of Abgboville and Tiassale and in the western region of Duekoue and Gagnoa, farmers said the weather was supporting good crop development.
In the southern region of Aboisso, however, farmers were concerned about overcast conditions.
"The weather is very overcast and there is not enough sun. We fear the appearance of brown rot from next month if this weather persists. For now, the pods are growing well on trees," said Etienne Yao, a farmer in Aboisso.
Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly, editing by Edward McAllister and Susan Fenton