Light rains in the past week in most of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions boosted hopes for a healthy main crop but overcast skies could reduce the size of the early harvest, farmers said on Monday.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 14 millimetres of rainfall, compared with 35 mm the previous week.
"The lack of sun is worrying. Pods fell and became black because of too much humidity and not enough sun," said Salam Kone, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.
"There are a lot of flowers and little pods on the trees that are giving us hope for an abundant harvest this year."
In the western region of Bouafle and the centre-western region of Daloa, farmers reported light rains that are good for the growth of flowers and pods.
"There were light rains that penetrated the soil well and were good for the pods. But if there is not enough sun by the end of the month, the black pod disease will settle in and destroy a lot of pods," said Koffi Konan, who farms near Daloa.
In Bonafle, farmer and cooperative manager François M'Bra said the harvest would start next month. "There are a lot of well-formed pods on the trees," he said.
In the southern region of Divo, farmers said they were expecting the main crop to be abundant until at least December, since the soil's moisture was high.
"We need sun now so that things can evolve. If there is good sun starting from the end of the month, the harvests will be abundant," said Amadou Diallo, who farms near Divo. He said they would begin harvesting in October so the crop's peak could occur in December.
However in the southern region of Aboisso, farmers said they received three days of good sunshine mixed with one downpour. Farmer Etienne Yao said the crop looked good and should be ready to harvest in October.
"If the sun continues, the production will be abundant like last season," said Yao.