Ivory Coast cool weather threatens next cocoa main crop

Workers dry cocoa beans in the village of Goin Debe, Blolequin department, western Ivory Coast August 17, 2015. Picture taken August 17, 2015. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Persistent cool weather in some of Ivory Coast's main cocoa growing regions could hurt output during the start of the forthcoming main crop, farmers said on Monday. Weather in July and August is crucial to determining the size of the October-to-March cocoa main crop. Farmers said prolonged cloudy and cool weather could prevent cocoa trees from reaching reach their full potential. In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, an analyst reported 25 millimeters of rain, compared with 2 millimeters the previous week. "There is a bit of sun but the cold wind is still there. The flowers and the small pods can't develop well," said farmer Salame Kone, who farms in the outskirts of Soubre. "A lot of them will fall off the trees if the cold persists," Kone said. In the center-west region of Daloa, producing the quarter of Ivory Coast’s national output, farmers reported no rainfall and a spell of cool but sunny weather. “The cold hasn't yet had an impact because there was a bit of heat in the day," said farmer Albert N’Zue, whose farm is located near Daloa. "But if we don't get more sun, the main crop risks being attacked by insects and disease." However, in southern regions of Aboisso, Agboville and Divo and in eastern region of Abengourou, farmers said the right combination of rains and sun had occurred, which would support the main crop. "We're not worried for now. The trees are looking good," farmer Amadou Diallo, who farms in the outskirts of Divo, said. "We need a lot of rain and plenty of sun in the coming weeks for the beans to be abundant," he added. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Tim Cocks)