Rainfall in most of Ivory Coast's cocoa regions was mainly below average last week, prompting farmers on Monday to warn of the need for heavier showers as harvesting intensifies.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is entering the rainy season, which runs from mid-March to late October when there should be regular downpours.
Farmers said current soil moisture levels were helping the development of the April-to-September mid-crop, but more regular and abundant rains would be needed to produce large, high-quality beans.
"It's very hot and the irregularity of good rains could produce small beans that are low in cocoa," said Eric Koua, who farms near the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Soubre was 6.2 millimetres (mm) last week, 14.8 mm below average.
Similar reports came from the southern regions of Agboville and Divo, and from the eastern region of Abengourou, where rains were also below average, although farmers there said they were expecting abundant downpours soon as the sky was often overcast.
In the centre-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's national output, farmers also said they needed heavier rain to ensure a plentiful crop.
Rainfall in Daloa was 12.2 mm last week, 10.7 mm below average.
Farmers in the central region of Bongouanou, where 21.8 mm fell last week, 0.7 below average, said more rain was needed, while farmers were happy in the central region of Yamoussoukro were 34.4 mm fell last week, 14 mm above average.
Temperatures over the past week ranged from 27.5 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Farmers said harvesting was picking up and more trucks were carrying beans from the bush compared with the previous period.