West African cocoa farmers on high alert for return of black pod disease

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

The affects of black pod disease on a cocoa tree. Pic: researchgate.net
The affects of black pod disease on a cocoa tree. Pic: researchgate.net

Related tags: Cocoa

The potentially devastating black pod disease could affect cocoa crops in West Africa this year, due to above-average rainfalls and warm and humid conditions in September.

According to agricultural weather consultancy Climate42, the conditions in the region could accelerate the spread of the fungal disease and stated that the pathogen responsible for it was able to survive on cocoa farms during a short dry season due to wetter than normal weather in West Africa in August.

The rotting of cacao pods caused by Phytophthora palmivora is referred to as black pod disease. The pathogen can be located anywhere on the cocoa trees but is most noted for the black mummified look it will give to the fruit of the cocoa tree.

"Should the wet conditions continue until November, it might pose a serious threat to the late crop because infected pods will stay on the trees longer, allowing the pathogen to spread even more​," the firm said.

Staying ahead of the pathogen is the best means of control, and Climate42 advised farmers to check the crops this season in order to detect potential outbreaks early and employ control techniques.

Reuters reported that most analysts predict a drop in Africa's cocoa production in the 2021/22 season that begins in October, which could result in reducing global supply inactivity.

Related topics: Commodities, Cocoa & Sugar

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