Above-average rains mixed with sun last week in most of Ivory Coast's cocoa-growing regions stood to boost the quality of the April-to-September mid-crop, farmers said on Monday.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, is in the dry season that runs from mid-November to March, when downpours are poor or scarce.
Farmers said the October-to March main crop was tailing off and that recent downpours would improve the size and quality of beans to be harvested from May to June.
They added that smuggling was intensifying at the eastern border, where Ghanaian buyers were paying between 850 to 900 CFA francs ($1.62) per kilogram, compared with 750 CFA francs per kg paid by local Ivorian buyers.
The guaranteed farmgate price is meant to be 1,000 CFA francs per kg.
"Since the beginning of the month, lots of people are loading up to sell in Ghana," said Laurent Aka, who farms near the eastern region of Abengourou, know for the good quality of its beans.
Data collected by Reuters showed rainfall in Abengourou was 35 millimetres (mm) last week, 18.7 mm above the five-year average.
Rains were also above average in the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, and in the southern region of Divo, where farmers said plenty of cherelles (young cocoa pods), small and average-sized pods were receiving enough moisture for a large mid-crop.
"If it continues to rain the beans will be of better quality than last year," said Armand Gnali, who farms near Soubre, where rained reached 14 mm last week, 1.1 mm above the average.
The southern region of Divo recorded 22 mm of rain, 5.1 mm above the average.
Below Average Rainfall
Farmers said they were happy with the level of rainfall in the southern region of Agboville, although it was below average.
In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central region of Yamoussoukro, where rains were above average, farmers said a lack of buyers was making it hard to keep their plantations in good shape.
"The mid-crop harvest has started in places. We hope the beans will be bought," said Albert N'Zue, who farms near Daloa, where 39.6 mm fell last week, 24.2 mm above the average. Farmers had a similar report from the central region of Bongouanou, where rainfall was below average.
Last week's average daily temperatures ranged from 27.3 to 32.1 degrees Celsius.