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ABIDJAN: Above-average rain in most of Ivory Coast’s main cocoa growing regions last week helped the October-to-March main crop to strengthen, farmers said on Monday, adding there were plenty of pods, known as cherelles, on trees.

The world’s top cocoa producer is in its rainy season which runs officially from April to mid-November.

Farmers said the harvest of the main crop would start slowly in September and gradually increase in October before ending in January. However, they added that abundant rains in September could trigger cocoa disease.

“Everything’s fine with the trees at the moment. If we get enough sunshine over the coming weeks, many cherelles will survive to produce a lot of harvest,” said Raymond Dasse, who farms near the western region of Soubre, where 39.7 millimetres (mm) fell last week, 28 mm above the five-year average.

In the southern regions of Agboville and Divo and in the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were well above average, farmers said that cocoa pods were developing well on trees and that the main crop would be concentrated between November and January.

Rain was below average in the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, where farmers said growing conditions were good thanks to adequate soil moisture content. Significant volumes of beans were expected to leave the bush from September, they said.

“There are already a lot of large, almost ripe pods on the trees in some areas. But there will be a lot of picking from next month onwards,” said Marc Allangba, who farms near Daloa, where 15.9 mm fell last week, 4.1 mm below the average.

Ivory Coast’s average temperatures ranged from 24.1 to 26.4 degrees Celsius last week.

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