On average, Edo State (southwestern Nigeria) accumulates enough rain surplus over the season to protect cocoa trees from hydric stress until early January.
This season seemed to follow the same rule until the first dekad of October. Even though the cumulative rainfall in this region was, throughout 2022, below average, the soil reservoirs were full as usual by early October. This was thanks to long-term average rainfall being in excess of the plants needs and this year not being far below the average.
However, this year, the usual sharp drop in precipitation at the end of the rainy season occurred about three weeks earlier than average, so the trees started to deplete the soil water reserves as early as the third dekad of October. As a result, Edo State, at this point, is currently 15 days less resilient to hydric stress than in the past.
Unless large and unlikely showers occur in the next two weeks, trees will begin to feel the bite of dryness by Christmas at the latest. This is likely to result in a higher rate of cherelle wilting during January and February, whether the dry season is mild or not.