Ivory Coast cocoa main crop should weather below-average rain
ABIDJAN, July 27 (Reuters) - Rainfall last week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions was below average, but growing conditions are still good enough to ensure the steady development of the October-to-March main crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast is in the middle of its April-to-October rainy season, but the central cocoa-growing region of Bongouanou recorded below average rainfall.
Farmers said it was too early to be worried by the decline in rainfall because the soil moisture content from previous rainfall was enough to help trees as plenty of tiny flowers have developed into healthy pods.
They said the trees could resist another week without adequate rainfall, but it would be important to get a mix of downpours and sunny spells from late August until October.
"We are preparing the September-to-October harvest," said Lambert Kacou, who farms in the outskirts of the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Abengourou was at 14.2 millimeters (mm) last week, 3.6 mm below the five-year average.
In the southern regions of Agbovile and Divo, the central region of Yamoussoukro, and in the western regions of Daloa and Man, farmers said the main crop was in progress supported by abundant sunshine.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said they were spraying fungicides on trees to avoid parasites and insects.
"There is a bit too much humidity around cocoa tree stems. This favours the development of diseases," said Salome Kone, who farms near Soubre, where 2.3 mm of rainfall fell last week, 17.2 mm below the average.
Average temperatures over the last week ranged from 24.5 to 27.2 degrees Celsius across the country.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Writing by Bate Felix; editing by Barbara Lewis)
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