ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions received abundant rainfall and sunshine last week, ending months of dry weather and improving the outlook for the upcoming mid-crop harvest, farmers and analysts said on Monday.
This year's November-to-March dry season has been marked by extreme heat and very little rainfall, causing trees to lose leaves and hindering the development of pods for the April-to-October mid-crop.
Most farmers said the rains had arrived in time to salvage the mid-crop. However, they added that continued showers were needed to ensure pod development.
In the western region of Gagnoa, farmers reported three abundant showers.
"The farmers are smiling again. We had three heavy showers. This is a good thing for the mid-crop," said Gagnoa farmer and cooperative manager Francois Badiel.
"It was about time. The trees were struggling and with these rains we're seeing that they are perking up and flowers are appearing for the mid-crop," he said.
In the western region of Duekoue, farmers reported two abundant showers.
"There was good rainfall this week but we need more to improve the quality and size of the beans as well as good flowering in order to ensure a healthy mid-crop," said Duekoue farmer Amara Kone.
"The beans are currently small because the dry season was strong. But with this rainfall, we hope that the mid-crop beans will be big and of good quality," he said.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the southern regions of Aboisso, Divo and Abgoville and in western region of Bouafle.
In the western region of Soubre, farmers said three heavy downpours would help ensure a robust finish to the main crop.
"The plantations got good rain. There won't be a break between the main crop and mid-crop. If the rains continue over the next tow weeks, we'll see lots of flowering," said Lazare Ake, who farms on the outskirts of Soubre.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers reported one abundant rainfall.
"We had one good shower. It's good for the trees. But we'll need more in order to improve the growing conditions, because the dry season was very hard on the trees," said farmer Attoungbre Kouame.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the coastal region de Sassandra.
"There was a bit of rain in the bush but many trees have already lost leaves. That isn't good," said agronomist Lassene Traore.