Cocoa Baking Chocolate Cocoa

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                                          Booklet No. 232.

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                                    Plantation Crops: PLCS-2
I.     Introduction
II.    Climate
III.   Soil
IV.    Shade
V.     Varieties
VI.    Establishing Cocoa Plantation
VII.   Inter Cropping
VIII. Fertilizer Application
IX.    Irrigation
X.     Training and Pruning
XI.    Intercultural Operations
XII.   Insect Pest and Diseases
XIII. Harvesting and Yield
XIV. Processing and Storage
XV.    Economics of Cultivation.


       Cocoa is one of the most important crop in the world The powedered form of form of
cocoa seeds are used in hot and soft drinks. There are also prepared from cocoa seeds. This
booklet describes the scientfic cultivation of cocoa.

Dr. K. T. Chandy, Agricultural & Environmental

I Introduction

        Cocoa, Theobroma cocoa, ranks third as a beverage crop in the world next to tea and
coffee. Its food value is high having as much as 37% fat and 7% protein. The original habitat of
cocoa is believed to be in the midst of the Amazon wild forest in South America. Presently about
35 countries in the world produce and export cocoa, the major countries are Ghana, Nigeria,
Ivory Coast, Brazil and Cameron. In 1985-86 the total world production was 1968(00 metric

         The commercial cultivation of cocoa in India started in the early 1970. Eighty percent of
cocoa area is inter-planted in coconut and arecanut plantations. The present area under cocoa
cultivation is estimated to be around 22600 hectares with an annual production of about 6300
tonnes. Kerala accounts for 79% of the area and 71 % of production of cocoa. Karnataka ranks
second with an estimated 18% of area and 25% of production.
II. Climate

       Cocoa is a crop of the tropics where the daily temperature does not fall below 15 oC and
the annual mean temperature remains about 21oC. The cocoa tree flourishes in the dense
shade of warm rain forests in its natural habitat. Cocoa is grown up to an elevation of about 500
metres from sea level. However it performs best up to 300 m above sea level. The crop is grown
in areas where some rainfall is received round the year.

III. Soil

         Cocoa needs a soil which can be easily penetrated by its roots. The soil must be
capable of retaining moisture during the dry season and the air circulation should be easy.
Clayey loams, loams, and sandy loams are the most suitable soil types. Alluvial soils,
particularly those found on the river banks are very suitable. Cocoa thrives well on a wide range
of soil with pH ranging from 4.5 to 7.

IV. Shade

       Cocoa where natural environment is the lower storey of the forests, requires shade when
young and also to a lesser extent when grow up. Young cocoa plants grow best with 50% full,
sunlight. It grows very well in the partially shaded conditions prevailing in the arecanut and
coconut gardens in our country. As the tree matures, its shade requirements are reduced.

V. Varieties

       Forastero and Criollo are the two commercially important varieties. Distinct differences in
characters exist between these varieties.
A. Forastero
       Forastero pods are rather smooth, thick walled and with faint ridges and shallow furrows.
They are green when immature and turn crimson brown on fermentation. The duration for
proper fermentation is four to six days.

B. Criollo
       Criollo pods are rough surfaced (warty), distinctly pointed, rather thin walled and with
prominent ridges and deep furrows. They are red or green when immature and turn orange or
yellow when ripe. Criollo beans are comparatively bigger and heavy. The cotyledons are white
or pale violet when fresh and turn light brown on fermentation. The duration for proper
fermentation is three to four days.

       Cocoa is highly cross pollinated plant and growing of different varieties adjacent to each
other should be avoided to prevent deterioration of quality.

VI. Establishing Cocoa Plantation

       Cocoa is very exacting in its climatic requirement as well as the soil conditions.
Therefore, proper care must be taken while establishing the cocoa plantation.

A. Preparation of land
       The seedlings are usually planted in newly cleared forest areas where control of soil
erosion is very important. The seedlings are spaced at 3 to 4.5 meters. The crop is best grown
with 50% light intensities in the early stages. In the early life of the plants temporary shade is
provided by planting quick growing plants like banana, papaya, tapioca, etc.

B. Selection of planting material
       Cocoa can be propagated from seeds, or vegetatively from cuttings. However,
vegetative propagation is used only for experimental studies. Fresh beans should be used for
sowing, as cocoa seeds loose their viability soon after they are taken out of pods.

C. Selection of mother plants
       Select mother plants with the following characteristics.

1. Trees of Forastero type having medium large or large pods, having 350 g weight or 400 cc
volume of green or greenish white colour, smooth surface and shallow furrows and without a
prominent construction at the neck with a production of at least 100 pods per year.
2. Pod with husk thickness should not be more than one centimeter.
3. Pod value or pod index should not be more than 10 to 12.
4. Pods should have violet/pink coloured cotyledons and a minimum of 30 -35 fully developed
normal sized beans.
5. Seed index of not less than 1.0 to 1.2 grams (average weight
of dry seeds).

       Harvest mature or ripe pods during December –February period from the selected
mother plants.

D. Nursery raising
        Fresh beans are used for sowing. The beans are planted with the point upwards or it is
best to lay the seeds flat as they do not germinate satisfactorily. Seeds may be sown in bamboo
basket or polythene bags or on raised beds. If sown on raised beds, the young seedlings are
usually transplanted in containers, eg. polytbene bags, pots or bamboo basket, about two
weeks after sowing. The seedlings are transplanted after 4-6 months. As cocoa shows
considerable variability in the field, it is recommended that seedlings may be obtained only from
government nurseries and such other dependable sources.

E. Propagation and planting
         Vegetatively propagated progenies will be true to the plants. Softwood grafting is found
to be possible in cocoa. This method consist of cleft grafting of scions with the seedlings of 40 to
45 I days old seedlings raised in poly bags. The scions are procured, prior to defoliation of
shoots of comparative thickness. The scions start sprouting within one month. All the shoots
emerging from rootstock are to be removed periodically. The grafts are planted in the pits as in
the case of seedlings. (For further information on grafting refer booklet No.6 on 'Propagation of
fruit Trees.

1. Time of planting
         As a pace plantation, cocoa can be planted in forest lands by thinning and regulating the
shade. Planting should coincide with the onset of monsoon, i.e. either in beginning of the
monsoon, in May -June, or at the end of the monsoon, in September. The places where
irrigation is restricted to, flexibility in the time of planting is possible.

2. Method of planting
       Cocoa seedlings are planted in pits of 75 x 75 x 75 cm cube. These pits are dug and
allowed to weather for one month and refilled with top soil and 15 -20 kg of compost/FYM to
ground level. The planting hole should be made at least of the same size as to hold the soil ball.
Tear off the polybag carefully, place the soil ball with the seedling in the planting hole and press
the soil around it firmly.

F. Spacing
        Cocoa is planted at a distance of 2.5 to 3.0 m both between plants and within rows. In
coconut, depending upon the spacing adopted, one or two rows of cocoa can be planted in
between two rows of coconut i.e. two rows where the spacing is more than 8 m and one row
otherwise the plant distance for cocoa being 2.7 to 3 metre. Wider spacing apart from being
favourable for pest and insect attack, is also uneconomical. When the distance is increased,
cost of transplantation of seedlings, plant materials, management and weeding is increased.

Vll. Intercropping

       Cocoa can be cultivated as an intercrop or subsidiary crop in arecanut and coconut
gardens. The mixed plantation of arecanut and cocoa can be raised by adopting either the
quincunx method at a spacing of 4m x 4m with the cocoa occupying the centre of the square.
Both arecanut and cocoa require shade during the first two hot weather seasons after planting.
Banana can be grown as shade crop. Red gram, sesbania and such other growing pulse or
green manure crops are found to be equally good.

VIII. Fertilizer Application

         An annual application of 100 g nitrogen i.e. 225 g urea and 40 g phosphorus i.e. 125 g
double super phosphate, 140 g potash i.e. 233 g muriate of potash per tree per year in two
equal split doses is recommended. During the first year of planting the plants may be given one
third of the above dose, while during the second and third year two thirds and full dose of
fertilizers may be applied. The fertilizer is applied in two splits, the first dose in February - March
and the second dose in September- October.

        Fertilizer may be applied uniformly around the base of the tree up to a radius of 75 cm
and forked and incorporated in the soil. Graduallly, increase the radius of the basin to 120 cm by
the third year. Digging should not be done as roots are concentrated in the top 15 cm layer of

      If plants show zinc deficiency symptoms (narrowing of leaves, sickle leaf formation,
green vein banding chlorosis in the internal areas), zinc sulphate @ 0.5 -1.5% should be
sprayed three times in a year.

IX. Irrigation

         Under conditions of well distributed rainfall, cocoa grows well as a rainfed crop and
irrigation is not necessary. In summer, irrigation is one of the important aspects in the cocoa
cultivation. Cocoa plants require continuous supply of moisture for optimum growth and yield.
During summer, the plants will have to be irrigated at weekly intervals. When cocoa is planted
as a mixed crop in arecanut garden it has to be irrigated with 30 mm depth of water. If adequate
water supply is not ensured in summer months, the yield will be reduced and under mixed
cropping system if there is severe drought, the yield of both the crops may be affected.
Providing adequate irrigation is very important for cocoa both in mono as well as mixed crop
I X. Training and Pruning

         The cocoa trees should be pruned regularly to develop a good shape. For this all the fan
branches arising from the main stem are nipped off up to a height of about one to 1.5 m or cut in
the initial years of their growth. Later, only the thin and dried up branches are periodically
removed. Operations like harvesting, spraying etc. will be easier if the height of the trees is kept
at the second storey level.

        Cocoa grows in a series of storeys. The chupons on vertical growth of the seedlings
terminates at the jorquette, where four or five fan branches develop. Further chupon develops
just below the jorquette and continues its vertical growth till another jorquette forms and so on.
When the first jorquette develops at a height of about 1.5 m the canopy will form at a height
convenient for harvesting and other operations. It is desirable to limit the height of the tree at
that level by periodical removal of chupon growth. A second jorquette may be allowed to
develop if the first one formed was very close to the ground. Generally 3 to 5 fan branches are
developed at each jorquette. When more fan branches develop, one or two weaker ones may
be removed. The branches badly affected by pest and diseases should be removed.

XL Intercultural Operations

       During the first three or four years after planting extreme care and intercultural
operations should be done for the cocoa plantation.

A. Weeding
       Weeds have a deleterious effect on the growing cocoa and may be partially controlled by
the degree of shade. They may be controlled by manual weeding but the use of herbicides is
superceding this in some areas.

B. Mulching
        During the establishment phase of the crop particularly in summer, provide mulching
with materials like chopped banana sheath, coconut husk, etc. to conserve moisture conditions
of direct insolation.

C. Gap filling
        After transplanting the cocoa in the main field, there are chances of dying of a few
plants. They are replaced by the other healthy plants from nursery. The plants replaced should
be of the same age of dead or removed ones.

XII. Insect Pests and Diseases

The major pests and diseases of cocoa are described below.

A. Insect pests
       More than 50 insects have already been recorded in cocoa from India. The more
important among them have been described here.

1. Mealy bugs
The adult female and young ones feed on the tender shoots, cushions, flowers and pods by
sucking up the sap. They also attract various ants. Seedlings and young plants affected by the
mealy bugs show retarded growth and excessive branching at undesired height. The population
of the bugs is more during the summer months.

        Application of any of the following insecticides will maintain the population at low level.
Fenthion (Lebacid) 50 ml in 100 litres of water or monocrotophos (Nuvacron) 125 ml in 100 litres
of water or dimethoate (Rogor) 160 ml in 100 litres of water, will be it 1 helpful in reducing the
pest incidence.

2. Stem borer
       Caterpillars of this pest commonly known as red borer of coffee. bore into the branches
and trunks of cocoa trees. The aerial portion above the point of entry of the pest dries up.

-Remove and destroy the attacked branches and apply BHC pastes at the local places.
-Spray with BHC 50% WP or Carbaryl (Sevin 50%) WP @ 200 g in 100 lit of water will be
helpful in reducing the pest incidence.

3. Aphids
       Adults and young black aphid feed on the underside of tender leaves, succulent stem
and flowers and small chereller. Heavy infestation brings about premature shedding of flowers
and stunting of stem tip.

4. Stem girdler
        The larvae of this beetle tunnel the bark first and penetrate deeper making galleries. On
younger trees the pest attack occurs at the jorquette which normally results in drying or breaking
of the above portion.

      Mechanical extraction of the larvae and local treatment with BHC paste are suggested.

5. Leaf eating caterpillars
       Several hairy caterpillars and semiloopers feed on the tender foliage, shoots and green
bark of chereller and pods. They would cause serious leaf damage on seedlings and young

       Spraying either by BHC 50% WP 100 g in 100 lit of water or Dimethoate 160 ml in 100 l
of water is effective in controlling the insect.

6. Leaf eating beetles
       Leaf eating beetles mainly Mylloceros sp. and Popellia sp. feed on tender leaves
causing a series of irregular holes. They make sporadic appearances in some gardens and
cause serious damage. Grubs of these beetles dwell in the soil.

        Spraying the foliage and drenching the soil with a suspension of BHC 50% WP @of 20 g
in 100 litres of water is effective in controlling the pest.

7. Rodents
       Rats and squirrels are the major rodent pests of cocoa. They cause serious damage to
the crop. The rats cut pods near the stalk portion whereas squirrels gnaw the pods in the centre.
The rats are known to damage mature as well as immature cocoa pods whereas the squirrels
damage only the mature ones.

         The rats can be controlled by keeping 10 g Bromochlone (0.005%) wax on the branches
of rat infested trees twice at an interval of 10 -12 days. Squirrels are best controlled by trapping
with wooden or wiremesh single catch live trap with ripe coconut kernel as the bait.

B. Diseases
       Among the diseases of cocoa occurring in India, phytophthora disease inflict severe
losses. Apart from these many other fungi are attacking the cocoa plant. A few major diseases
have been explained here.

1. Black pod disease
       It occurs in all the cocoa growing areas of south India during the south -west monsoon
period and the maximum incidence occurring in July -August. The infection occurs anywhere on
the pod surface. Pods of all ages are susceptible. Pods damaged by rodents/insects or injured
while harvesting, pruning or carrying out cultural operations are more prone to infection by the

        Infection appears as a chocolate brown spot which spread and soon occupies the entire
surface of the pod. As the disease advances, a whitish growth of the fungus is produced over
the affected pod surface. Ultimately the affected pods turn chocolate brown to black. The
internal tissue as well as the leaves become discoloured. The beans in the infected pods
approaching ripeness may escape from infection because they are separated from the husk on

-Remove all the dried and infected twigs before the onset of i monsoon.
-Remove all the infected pods when noticed.
-Provide good drainage and aeration in the p1a11tation during the monsoon periods.
-Spray with 1.0% Bordeaux mixture before the onset of monsoon immediately after removing
the damaged pods.
-Over crowding of trees and thick shade should be avoided.

2. Pod rot disease
       This disease is known to occur throughout the year, but becomes severe during summer
months. Pods of all ages are susceptible.

         The disease is characterised by the formation of water soaked lesions on the pod either
at the tip or stalk end. Initially, the lesions are chocolate brown and then dark. In due course, the
complete pod develops a black sooty appearance as a result (\f the fungus allover the surface of
the pod.

a. Spraying 1.0% Bordeaux mixture is recommended to control this disease.
b. Measures also should be taken to control insect and rodents pests since infections takes
place through wounds.
3. Colletotrichum pod rot
       The initial symptoms of infection in check the appearance of small chlorotic spots on the
surface of the pods, which later turn to dark brown and necrotic. The spots enlarge in a circular
manner surrounded by prominent chlorotic yellow halo. Fully developed spots are dark brown
and depressed in nature. The adjoining spots coalesce to cover a large area on the surface of
the pod. Numerous pink coloured fructifications of the fungus develop on the necrotic spots. In
advanced cases, the pods dry up and remain as mummified structure on the tree.

a. Remove all the dried branches and infected pods.
b. Spray 1.0% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% Captofol before the onset of monsoon.

4. Pink disease
        It is characterised by the presence of a pinkish powdery watering on the stem. It causes
wilting of shoots, shedding of shoots, shedding of leaves and finally drying up of the branch. The
disease persists from season to season through dormant mycelium inside the bark.

a. Remove all the infected and dried branches and apply Bordaux mixture paste at the fork
region and at the cut ends of the twigs.
b. Spray 1.0% Bordeaux mixture before the onset of monsoon. Repeat the spraying again once
or thrice during the monsoon season according to the intensity of the disease.

5. Vascular streak die-back
        The first indication of the disease is the characteristic chlorosis of one or two leaves on
the second or third growth flush behind the tip. Tip leaves and young seedlings develop into
small but sharply defined green spots scattered allover. Diseased leaves fall within a few days
after turning yellow. Leaves above and below the first diseased leaf soon begin to show the
yellow green patches and these also falloff leaving naked shoot.

-Remove and destroy all the infected twigs.
-Spray of 1.0% Bordeaux mixture may be carried out to prevent spread of the disease to healthy

6. Canker
       The cankers appear either on the main trunk, jorquettes or fan branches. The earliest
symptoms is the appearance of a greyish brown water soaked lesion on the outer bark. A
reddish brown liquid oozes out from these lesions which later dries up to form rusty deposits.
The tissue beneath the outer lesions show reddish brown discolouration due to rotting. When
the cankers girdle the main stem or branches, dieback symptoms appear and ultimately the
death of the tree occurs.

a. All infected pods should be removed and destroyed.
b. A good drainage system should be provided.
c. In the early stages of disease spread remove the infected tissue and apply Bordeaux paste.

7. White thread blight
       White thread blight is observed in some of the gardens in Kerala and Karnataka states.
The white mycelial threads of the fungus spread longitudinally are irregularly placed along the
surface of the young stem or branches. Growth of the fungus is very rapid under favourable
condition of high humidity and the infection enters leaf lamina along the petiole. The affected
leaves turn dark brown. These dead leaves eventually get detached from the stem but are
found suspended by the mycelial thread.

a. Remove and burn the affected parts '
b. Remove heavy shade from the garden.

8. Zinc deficiency
         Severe incidence of zinc deficiency is observed in many cocoa gardens in India. The
initial symptoms is chlorosis of the leaves. This appear in patches and in advanced stages the
green areas are found only along the vein margins, giving a vein banding appearance to the
leaves. Affected leaves show mottling and crinkling with wary margin. Most of the younger
leaves become narrow, much reduced ill size and sickle shaped showing characteristic little leaf

        Foliar application of a mixture of 0.3% zinc sulphate and 0.5% (WN) lime can be
effective for zinc deficiency.
XIII. Harvesting and Yield

       Cocoa flowers from the second year of planting and the pods take about 140 to 160
days to mature and ripen. Quick pods will have 20 to 45 beans embedded in white pup
(mucilage). Generally cocoa gives two main crops in a year i.e. September to January and April
to June. Only ripe pods have to be harvested. Ripening takes about 25 days during which the
pods change colour depending on the variety. The pods are harvested by cutting the stalk with
the help of a knife. Harvesting should be done at regular intervals rather than doing daily, say
once in 7 to 10 days. The harvested pods should be kept for a minimum period of two days
before opening for fermentation. However, the pods should not be kept beyond four days. For
breaking the pods wooden billet may be used. After breaking the pods crosswise, the placenta
should be removed together with husk and the beans are collected for fermentation. On an
average 21 kilograms tips pods are available from a tree.

XIV. Processing and Storage

       Processing of cocoa consists of many steps. These are described below.

A. Fermentation
       Fermentation of cocoa beans is essential to remove the adhering mucilaginous pulp, to
develop flavour and aroma, reduce bitterness, kill the germ of the seed and loosen the testa.
The different methods of fermentations are practiced. Among these, box and basket methods
are recommended depending on the quantity of beans to be fermented.

B. Drying
         On completion of fermentation, beans are dried either in the sun or by artificial means.
Sun drying can be done in wooden platforms or mats by spreading out beans in thin layers 2-3
cm and stirring from time to time. Under normal sunny weather drying can be completed in four
to five days.
C. Storage
        The dried beans soon after cooling to room temperature should be cleaned before
storage. The flat, slaty, shriveled, broken and other extraneous materials are removed. The
cleaned beans are packed in fresh polythene lined (150 to 200 gauge) gunny begs. The bags
are kept on a raised platform of wooden planks. The beans should not be stored in rooms where
spices, pesticides and fertilizers are stored as they may absorb the odour from these materials.

XV. Economics of Cultivation

        Most of the cocoa growers do not maintain farm records or accounts properly. So it is
very difficult to make out whether the enterprise is at a loss or profit. Following format can be
used to calculate economics of cocoa plantations.

A. Fixed cost
1. Cost of the land Rs
2. Cost of farm building and storage structure, etc. Rs
3. Cost of fencing wall Rs
4. Cost of windbreaks and sheds Rs ,
5. Cost of varius operatiobs
        a.clearing, levelling and bunding of the land Rs
        b. Irrigation Rs
        c. Weeding Rs ,..
        d. Application of fertilizers and manures Rs
        e. Application of insecticides and fungicides Rs
        e. Other intercultural operation Rs
        f. .Harvesting Rs
        g. Processing Rs
                 i.      Fermentation Rs
                 ii.     Drying Rs '.'
        h. Storage and grading Rs
6. Interest on fixed cost @ 10% Rs
7. Rent or revenue paid for the land Rs
8. Depreciation Rs
        a. Farm structures Rs
        b. Farm implements Rs
9. Repairs and maintenance Rs
10. Crop insurance Rs.
11. Cost of layout Rs
12. Cost of digging and filling pits Rs
13. Cost of machines, implements instruments and other accessories Rs
14. Cost of roads and paths Rs
15. Cost of irrigation system Rs
16. Cost of nursery raising and seedlings Rs
17. Cost of other permanent/ semi permanent structures Rs

B. Recurring cost
   1. Cost of manures and fertilizers, Rs
   2. Cost of insecticides, fungicides and \herbicides Rs
   3. Cost of farm power Rs
   4. Transportation charges Rs
    5. Cost of farm labour (paid and unpaid) Rs
            a. Cost of land preparation Rs
C. Income
    1. Yield of cocoa kernels Rs
    2. Firewood from pruning, etc. Rs
    3. Cocoa pods etc. Rs
    4. Any other material Rs
Gross income Rs
Net profit = Gross income -Total recurring cost

                       Purchase value -Junk value
Depreciation = -------------------------------------------
                                life span

       Note: Junk value is calculated only on those articles which are saleable after their life
span. The life span of farm building and farm machinery is 15 and 10 years respectively.


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