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CACAO, COCOA Theobroma cacao L. (STERCULIACEAE)

Sometimes the name differs for plant (cacao) and products (cocoa) or for both cocoa. Important tropical plant originally from the upper basin of the Amazon and its headwaters (in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil). There are three broad types of cocoa - FORASTERO and CRILLO plus TRINITARIO, which is a hybrid of Forastero and Crillo. There are several varieties of these types.

Uses
Cocoa powders are preferred for drinking chocolate (contain 20-25% fat) and are derived from cocoa liquor usually treated with alkali before pressing to improve fl avour and dispersability. Low fat (10-13%) powders are applied in confectionery, biscuits, ice-creams and other chocolate-flavoured products. Chocolate is made from a mix of cocoa liquor and butter with added sugar (and sometimes milk). Most cocoa butter is used to manufacture chocolates, but a minor volume also finds applications in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. Milk chocolate in a variety of forms (bars, fillings, coatings) is still the backbone of the world cocoa industry. 80% of all the cocoa world production is done in Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria and Malaysia.
Ecology and planting
Annual rainfall of 1500 - 2500 mm, with no more than three consecutive months with less than 100 mm, and temperatures between 30 - 32°C mean maximum and 18 - 21°C mean minimum are optimal (absolute minimum not below 10°C). Vegetative propagation by rooted cuttings, grafting, sidegrafting or budding is routinely applied everywhere to multiply selected parents for breeding programmes and elite clones for establishing seed gardens. Seedlings are ready for planting in the field 4 - 6 months after sowing, when 40 - 50 cm tall, planted in density 3x3m. First flowering starts 1.5 - 5 years after field planting, depending on cultivar and ecological conditions. Seedling trees need no pruning during the first 2 - 3 years. Cocoa trees begin to bear fruit when they are 3 - 4 years old.
Mycorrhiza & Bio-fertilizers
Positive effects of mycorrhiza on growth and beans yield of cacao were proved in pot and field experiments. Expected increase of yield is 15%. Treated plants should show reduced mortality at planting in the field and also higher resistance to soil borne diseases and less susceptibility to drought. Application of mycorrhizal inoculum may be done at propagation stage in the nursery or the inoculum may be applied together with biofertilizer when outplanting from nursery in the field. Application of mycorrhiza should increase sustainability of plantation, help conserve nutrients in the soil profile and contribute to erosion control.
Recommended products:
 
Symbivit: mycorrhizal product
Conavit: slow release fertlizer
 

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More details:
 
Info sheet Cacao [PDF]