Monday, January 18, 2021

Soil requirements for cocoa plant

Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) plantations are one of the most important forms of land use and are of enormous economic importance to developing countries in the humid tropics.

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 – care should be taken not to introduce seed- or soil-borne diseases through seedlings. A fertile, loam topsoil is ideal for filling the bags. It is recommended to pre-pare a special soil mixture for the nursery composed of 40 % top soil, 30 % compost and 30 % sand. After 4 – 5months, the seedlings are ready for transplanting.

Cocoa is a forest crop and so it is suited to forest soils. Hence, when planting cocoa in a field that has been used to grow other crops, farmers should remember to apply recommended mineral fertilizer or compost to the planting hole to improve soil fertility.

Soil nutrient management is critical to the general health of the tree, particularly where cocoa is grown on poor soils with low nutrient levels. The fertility of soils under cocoa plantations with complete canopy formation can be maintained or sustained for a fairly long time due to the ability of cocoa to recycle nutrients back into the soil through leaf fall and decomposition of leaf litter. Poor soil fertility has led to poor growth and premature aging of the cocoa trees, and hence to low productivity.
The soil layers should have the same colour. Having a similar soil colour indicates water can circulate freely in the soil. Fertile soils are mostly dark in colour (dark red or dark brown). The dark colour indicates the presence of lots of organic matter. Soils for cocoa cultivation should be well drained (not waterlogged – without gray and green or blue spots). When the colour of the soil is not uniform, it is difficult for water to circulate in it.

To develop a good root system, cocoa trees require a deep soil with sufficient amounts of organic matter and good drainage. Cocoa is susceptible to longer periods of water logging and poor aeration of soils. Moderate soil pH between 5.0 and 7.0 is preferred. The soil should be made up of a good mixture of sand and clay and should have a depth of 120 cm.
Soil requirements for cocoa plant

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