ABIDJAN, July 20 (Reuters) - Rains in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa growing regions were well below average last week, and more downpours and sunny spells are needed to boost the top grower’s main crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast is in the middle of its April to October rainy season. Increased soil moisture was helping trees develop tiny flowers and small pods, which was an encouraging start for the main cocoa crop, the farmers added.
Farmers are expected to start the main crop harvest from September to October, and a good mix of rainfall and sunshine in the coming weeks could increase output and extend the main crop harvest to December.
However, Kouassi Kouame, who farms near the western region of Soubre, said that if the cold evenings recorded in the past few weeks persisted, it could hurt the growth of the young pods.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre totalled around 3.4 millimetres (mm) last week, 21 mm below the five-year average.
Farmers in the southern regions of Divo and Agboville said the soil moisture content was helping the development of the main crop but the overcast weather was a concern.
In the western regions of Daloa and Man, and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, the rainfall was below average last week.
Although rainfall was also below average in the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, farmers said they expected early and abundant harvest from late August, but needed more rainfall to boost the crop.
“The harvest will start timidly around the end August. There are already some big pods on trees,” said Antoine Amani, who farms near Abengourou. Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Abengourou, was at 4.5 mm last week, 19.6 mm below the average.
Temperatures over the past week ranged from 24.3 to 26.6 degrees Celsius across the country. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Susan Fenton)