By Loucoumane Coulibaly
ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast weather over the past week indicated mixed prospects for its main cocoa crop, with overcast weather and no rain potentially hurting development of plants in most regions, but good sunny conditions in others.
In the world's top cocoa producer, farmers said that sunshine was crucial in this period of development of the main crop to help the growth of flowers and small pods now emerging on trees. The size of the crop will depend on the number of flowers that turn into small pods.
The marketing season for the Ivorian mid-crop, which began on April 1, is tailing off, meanwhile.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers reported no rainfall and a lack of sunny spells for a second consecutive week.
"We are not as worried about the rain because the level of humidity in the soil is good. It's the sunshine that we want to help the flowers and the pods to grow," said Koffi Kouame, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre.
"For now, there's no damage for the main crop. But the sun needs to come out quickly or we will lose lots of flowers," Kouame said.
In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, farmers said the lack of sun and a spell of cooler weather could jeopardize the main crop outlook in the region.
"The small pods might go yellow and fall from the trees and reduce the harvest for October in the region," farmer Marcellin N’Da said.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the coastal regions of San Pedro and Sassandra and in the southern region of Aboisso.
Growing conditions were better in the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast’s output, where farmers reported no rain and adequate sunshine for a second week.
"There is no problem here. The trees are doing well, and the flowers and small buds are abundant," said Abel Konan, who farms in the outskirts of Daloa.
In the western region of Bouafle and the central region of Divo, farmers also reported no rain and said the weather was good for the main crop.
"The weather is good here. The sunshine levels are good and lots of flowers are being transformed into small pods," said Amadou Diallo, who farms near Divo.