Cultural activities led throughout tomato and pepper cycleFarmers’ practicesResearch recommendations or Standard recommendationUPL-SPF cropping solutions
Soil, climate requirementSoil with good structure, permeable and deep is recommended. Thrives better with average rainfall of between 1150mm and 2500mm, and a temperature range of 18˚C to 32˚C. Cocoa will not do well in drought prone areas.
Crop Season (sowing
window)
Planting is preferably done at the onset of rainfall during May-June.Planting is preferably done at the onset of rainfall during May-June.
Variety/hybridThe common varieties of cocoa commonly grown by the farmers in the area is the criollos and forasteros* The Criollos: smaller yields when compared to other cocoa breeds. It is also the most expensive breed. Seed is hardly bitter and is only mildly acidic. It has a mild cocoa taste with striking secondary tastes of fruits, tobacco and nuts. More susceptible to pests and fungal diseases. * The Forasteros: This is a very robust and hardy breed of cocoa. Higher yield than Criollo. Accounts for more than 80% of global cocoa cultivation. Not as aromatic as Criollo, and can in most cases have a bitter and/or acidic taste. It has a hard and rough back and is the most common breed cultivated in Nigeria. * The Trinitario: Derived from crossing Criollos and Forasteros. It combines the robustness of the Forastero with the powerful aromatic cocoa taste of the Criollo.
Pre-sowing activities

-preparation of land

-sowing method, seed rate

-plant population, spacing
Farmers in the area mainly sow cocoa seed by the sides of the ridges originally prepared for yam cultivation so as to give the young cocoa seedlings maximum care. Sowing of two fresh seeds per hole is common and farmers do not follow recommended spacing; as such plant population varies depending on the side of the ridges prepared for yam. * Land clearing should take place between November and February * Fell all undesirable plants during the land preparation and allow to decay, avoid bush burning. * Lining and pegging is recommended for maximum yield * One fresh bean per stand is recommended. Avoid use of already germinating seed. * The recommended spacing is 3m by 3m to give a plant population of 1,111 plants/ha
Seedling (Nursery) Seedlings are raised either in polythene bags or on nursery beds. There is no special specification followed for raising the nursery beds, farmers simply remove existing weeds and old stocks followed by harrowing to pulverize the soil. Seeds from ripen cocoa pods are collected and sow in nursery bed around October to November. Nursery beds are prepared under partially shaded environment to reduce effect of scorching sun on young seedlings.* Start clearing your field from the month of October for nursery practice.
* Shade should be erected to protect the emerging seedling in nursery. * By November collect ripened hybrid cocoa and pre-germinate and sow in the nursery. * Maintain the nursery routinely up to May of the following year when the seedling will be ripe for transplanting. * Plants grown in shade while they line with a distance of 75-100 cm from the row of cocoa plants. * Plant shade still lies at the intersection of the diagonal line that connects the cocoa crop. * Temporary shade crop planted a year before the cocoa seedlings is planted in the garden, as a benchmark that is easy for this condition is a young cocoa only get direct sun exposure for 2 hours (11:00 to 13:00). * Plants shade remains (like plantain) should be planted 1-2 years before the seedlings are planted in the garden.
Transplanting (both cultures)The seedlings are ready for transplanting around May to June the following year and one seedling is transplanted per hole. - Transplanting of seedlings should be done after 6 - 7 months to their permanent site - Transplanting can be by “Potting system”, “Ball of Earth”
Irrigation
Fertilization (both cultures)Farmers in the area do not apply fertilizer on their cocoa farms. They usually establish cocoa plantation on virgin heavy soil or soil that has been under fallow for many years.- the recommended fertilizer is the single or triple super phosphate mixed with murate of sulfate of potash 10 bags of SSP mixed with 2.5 bags of murate of potash (MOP) or 2.5 bags of TSP mixed with 2.5 bags of MOP is recommended per hectare in one dose application.
Inter cultivationCocoa seeds and seedlings are usually intercropped with yam, cassava, plantain, banana, oil palm, orange* Research has shown that cocoa can be intercropped with another tree crop such as oil palm
Weed ManagementWeeding is done both by manual and chemical weeding in the field after transplanting. Common chemicals used by the farmers include Paraquat and glyphosate @ 4-5 liters/ha.* Weeds should be removed promptly to avoid competition with cocoa crop both at the nursery and in the field. * In the nursery manual weeding can be done while both manual and chemical weeding should be done in the field after transplanting. Paraquat and glyphosate @ 4-5 liters/ha should be used to control weeds.
Pest and disease management:

Pests

Brown cocoa mirids
* Mirids is common pest in the area and it is manage by spraying Apply aceptamiprid 100 g/L + cypermethrin 500 g/L. this is based on recommendation by extension workersBrown cocoa mirids (Sahlbergella singularis) :
Damage is caused by nymp and adult They attack cocoa stem and pod/fruit Symptoms * mirid punctures appear as water-soaked patches that turn black after 2-3 days * Dark lesions appear on young stems and fruits Management Cultural methods * Installing temporary shading in young plantings * upkeep and sucker removal in plots * gap filling in mature farms * rremoval basal chupon and pruning Chemical control * Apply thiamethoxam 98% 6 g/10L water * Apply aceptamiprid 100 g/L + cypermethrin 500 g/L * Thiachloprid 150 g/L + deltamethrin 20 g/L
stem borer
stem borer (Xylosandrus compactus ):
Damage is caused by larvae They attack cocoa stem and leaves Symptoms * Leaf and stem necrosis and plant die back * Wood shavings and frass deposit at the entrance of the hole in the trunk and at the base of the cocoa tree. Management Cultural Remove and destroy snapped cocoa branches and dried log of woods
Mealy bug
Mealy bug They are vectors for transmission of viral diseases Management Cultural * Handpick and destroy the bugs * Avoid intercropping with alternative hosts of the plant
Cocoa diseases
* Fungal disease (black pod)
Black pod is a common disease in the identified by the farmers. It is managed by removal of the infected pods and also by chemical control. Common chemicals used include * Apply chloropyriphos 0.25% * Apply Ridomil 72 plus (12% metalaxyl + 60% copper-1-oxide) Black pod of cocoa : They are caused by fungus Phytophthora palmivora Symptoms * Transmitted by insects and rain splash * Symptom start as small black spot that advance to cover the entire pod within 2 – 8 days Management Cultural control * Remove and burn all dead woods from the farm * Irrigation during dry season Chemical control * Apply chloropyriphos 0.25% * Apply Ridomil 72 plus (12% metalaxyl + 60% copper-1-oxide)
* Virus disease (Swollen shoot)
* Transmitted by mealy bug * Major symptom is die back * The disease is managed by rouging * Chemical control of mealy bug
* HarvestHarvesting is done as soon as cocoa pods are ripe using cutlass or go to hell at two weeks interval. The seeds are removed from the pods and fermented for 3-5 day to hasten the drying.* Pods should be harvested as soon as they are ripe with cutlass or hook without causing damage to the tree. * Harvesting should be done every two weeks * It is essential that the pods do not become over-ripe as they are more likely to become infected with diseases, and the beans. * Ferment the seeds after removal from the pods for 4 – 6 day * Sundry every day until constant weight is achieved
* Storage Sun-dried cocoa seed is +stored in jute sacks raised from the ground under room temperature. * Dried cocoa seed is best stored in jute sacks raised from the ground under room temperature.

References

1. NAERLS and SG-2000 (2016). N-Power Agricultural Extension Master Trainers’ Manual. 2. Basic Classroom for Africa: https://www.africabusinessclassroom.com/cocoa-farming-nigeria/

3. A Guide to Cocoa production: Cocoa research Institute of Ghana