Climate42 provides a new chart each week with light commentary. These charts are a snapshot in time of a specific cocoa producing region. For more regular analysis and commentary, find out more about the Cherelle Reports.
Tuesday March 29, 2022
Yilo Krobo district, Ghana – Precipitation 10-day running sums
Among the cocoa growing districts in Ghana, the Yilo Krobo Municipal District is normally one of the least watered in March, a key feature that tends to add to the delay in recovery and subsequent pod setting. This season, however, the Yilo Krobo district received above-average rainfall in the second half of February and the first half of March, which helped to cover the plants’ needs and, for once, initiate recovery earlier.
The period since mid-March was marked by a break in the rainfall which was ended by abundant rainfall on March 26. That dry spell was short enough not to have an effect on trees’ production. All in all, this district should enter the wet season with trees in good condition, despite the harsh, main dry season lived.
To put this in perspective, the situation is not as good as last year, when this district was exceptionally wet during the long dry season, but the recovery will be much quicker than, for example, in 2016, when the rains only returned in late March.
Tuesday March 22, 2022
Manyu Division, Cameroon – Relative Air Humidity
The Manyu division in Cameroon has experienced air humidity levels well above the infamous 2015-2016 harmattan season. That said, overall levels remain slightly below-average, which indicates a slightly stronger-than-average harmattan season.
Air humidity is a proxy for how much water the atmosphere is able to evaporate from the plants. When this rate is very high, it disrupts the transpiration and can lead to damage to the wood that transports water to the leaves. To limit this potential damage, trees reduce the amount of leaves they have. This has a knock-on negative effect on the plant’s capacity to feed its fruits.
These harmattan related drops in air humidity led to a massive leaf shedding and reduced the potential for the coming generations through wilting. The effects of the Harmattan this season have been stronger than average due to the low water available to the plants since November 2021. Air humidity levels should no longer pose any problems, but the effects to date have left a mark on the crop that will last until June – namely low crop potential and small beans.
Tuesday March 15, 2022
Osun State, Nigeria – Temperature Monitoring
Osun State, a key cacao region in Nigeria, experienced a long and dry harmattan season. Temperatures have been and continue to be extremely high – except for a short period of time in early March.
In particular, the daytime temperatures have been particularly high, with maximum temperatures reaching values 2 – 2.5C above the norm, near or at record-high levels throughout most of this dry season (and worse than during the infamous 2015/16 dry season).
As a consequence, this region has likely lost a great deal of the canopy, which means it will take the trees longer than usual to recover production once the rains start again. In addition, we expect the pod load for the next months to have been reduced through forced ripening.
Tuesday March 08, 2022
Harmattan Monitoring Update
Late January and beginning of February saw a fairly long and intense harmattan period. However, as of mid February, the Intertropical Front (ITF) has given signs of a northward retreat, especially obvious on its western flank.
In the first two days of March, the ITF took a very strong northward leap over Ivory Coast and Ghana – a northward move that was also observed, but was much less marked, over Nigeria and Cameroon. While this is expected to be a temporary swing, the more reliable, 10-day average position of the ITF was more northern than average over Ivory Coast and Ghana. Over Nigeria and Cameroon, the markings are of a slower ITF retreat and possibly lingering harmattan pressure in the hinterland cocoa regions.
Impacts on the cocoa trees
Ivory Coast and Ghana
The observed ITF retreat eased conditions for the trees, which limited their need to reduce their canopy through leaf shedding.
Nigeria and Cameroon
The lingering harmattan pressure in the last weeks will lead to a delay in setting and impinge on the potential for the coming months.
For more information, head to Climate42’s blog.
Tuesday March 01, 2022
Precipitation : 10-day running sums (mm/dekad) in the Atiwa district, Ghana
Atiwa district entered the dry season with well above average water resources, which supported the trees for longer than usual, despite the lack of rainfall in December.
Then, between mid-January and mid-February, the region experienced a month of harsh conditions with no rainfall to ease the burden of water stress.
For the past two weeks, Atiwa district has received 20-25 mm of rain, which has countered the water stress and helped the plants maintain their pod load. The dry season is far from over and a dry anomaly in early March, such as those seen in 2016 or 2021, would be detrimental to the trees.
Tuesday February 22, 2022
Harmattan Index values for the Sassandra-Marahoué District, Ivory Coast
Very high temperatures drove the harmattan index up very early in the season, but drops in air humidity, characteristic of proper harmattan conditions, only started occurring from mid-December onwards.
The above-average water reserves built before the main dry season carried the crops through the first harmattan period but were not enough to counter the effects of the prolonged high temperatures and the multiple, strong harmattan occurrences from mid-January onwards.
These have affected the setting for the second half of the mid-crop (which is half the usual!) and led to massive leaf shedding. Since trees will require a long time to refurbish their canopies, we expect a slow start of the next main crop.