Cocoa planting procedures and production techniques

The botanical name of Cocoa is  Theobroma cacao L.;  it belongs to the family Sterculiaceae

Varieties: Criollo, Forestero and Trinitario.
Soil and climate: Potash rich alluvial soils friable in nature with high humus and moisture retentivity with a pH of 6.6 - 7.0 are suitable. Cocoa is normally cultivated at altitudes upto 1200m with an annual rainfall of 150 cm and a relative humidity of 80 % and annual mean temperature
of 240C to 250C. Cocoa can be grown as intercrop in coconut and arecanut gardens.

Season: June - July and September - October.

Seeds and sowing: Cocoa is normally propagated by seed. Before sowing the seeds the pulp adhering to the seeds has to be removed. Cocoa seeds are individually sown in polybags soon
after extraction. The bags are filled with surface soil and sub-soil mixed with compost, leaf mould and fertilizers. Nursery plants are ready for transplanting at 6 months of age when they attain a height of 60 cm.

Planting: Seedlings are transplanted with a ball of earth in 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm pits at a spacing of 3 x3 m either way. Periodical mulching with leaves and watering should be done.
Temporary shade has to be provided.

Irrigation: Irrigation should be given as and when necessary. During summer months irrigation should be given once in three days.

Manuring: Trees of 3 years of age and above are manured with 100 g N, 40 g P and 140 g K per tree in two split doses during April - May and August - September. Trees younger than three years may be applied with half of this dose.

Aftercultivation: Weeding is done as and when necessary. The unproductive shoots, dead, diseased twigs should be removed periodically. Banana is better as a primary shade plant in the early years of plantation. For permanent shades Jack, Silver Oak, etc. are planted.

Plant protection against Pests
Mealy Bug: Spray phosphamidon 40 SL 2 ml/lit or dimethoate 2 ml/lit at fortnightly intervals.
Release coccinellid predator Cryptolaemus montrouzieri @ 10 tree.
Aphids: Spray dimethoate 35 EC 1 ml/lit at monthly intervals.
Grey Weevil: Spray phosphamidon 40 SL 2 ml/lit.
Hairy caterpillar: Dust lindane 1.3 D or spray lindane 20 EC 2ml/lit.
Semilooper: Dust lindane 1.3 D.

Protection against Diseases
Black pod disease: Spray 1 % Bordeaux mixture or 0.2 % Mancozeb or Copper oxychloride at 20 days interval.
Dieback disease: The disease can be controlled by spraying 1 % Bordeaux mixture.
Charcoal disease: Spray with 1 % Bordeaux mixture.
Pink disease: Prune the affected branches and swab the cut ends regularly with 1 % Bordeaux mixture.

Harvest: Bearing starts from 4th year but economic yield starts from 6th year onwards. The season of harvest is November - December and May - June.

Yield: The yield ranges from 500 - 1000 kg of dry beans/ha.

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