Sunday, November 24, 2019

Cultivation of cocoa plant

Cocoa is a crop of the humid tropics. Though it grows between 20°N and 20°S latitude, the main growing areas are situated within 10°N and 10°S. Cocoa is grown from sea level up to an elevation of about 500m. It comes up best up to 300m above mean sea level. Cocoa is normally raised from seed as it is the easiest and cheapest. A cocoa nursery usually has a simple structure as a roof with e.g. palm leaves as cover for shading and is usually situated close to a source of water for irrigation.

Cocoa beans are collected from healthy ripe pods and planted into nursery bags filled with clean top soil. After 4 – 5months, the seedlings are ready for transplanting.

Vegetative propagation can be done through cuttings or marcotting. Tree cuttings are taken with between two and five leaves and one or two buds. The leaves are cut in half and the cutting placed in a pot under polythene until roots begin to grow. When marcotting, a strip of bark is removed from a branch and the area covered in sawdust and a polythene sheet. The area will produce roots and the branch can then be chopped off and planted.

Cacao trees are grown in the shade of trees that provide other food and cash crops. The farmer tends all of his trees carefully using “machete technology.” If a pod is diseased, it is cut away with a machete or sharp knife and discarded before the disease can spread to other pods. This regular care limits the need for pesticides and fertilizers.

Cocoa requires deep and well-drained soil for easy penetration of the roots. Poorly drained soil is inimical to this crop. It is predominantly grown on clay loam and sandy loam soils. It thrives well on wide range of soil types with pH ranging from 4.5-8 .0 with optimum being 6.5-7.0.

Pruning and shade management are essential elements of cocoa management. Pruning involves thinning of branches and removal of old or dead stems, whilst shade management involves leaving forest trees and/or planting shade trees to optimise the light intensity in the cocoa grove.

An evergreen, the cacao tree has large glossy leaves that are red when young and green when mature. At maturity, the cultivated cacao tree stands 15-to-25 feet tall, though the tree in its wild state may reach 50 feet or more.
Cultivation of cocoa plant
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