Cocoa-Inter cultivation

During the first three or four years after planting, it is essential to keep the field free from weeds.

Maintenance and regulation of shade should be carried out promptly, especially in the initial years. Provide mulching with materials like chopped banana sheath, coconut husk, cocoa husk etc. to conserve moisture.

Organic manure @ 20 kg/plant is recommended in every year. Dolomite @ 100 gram / plant / year may be applied to plants from the third year onwards.

The first dose of fertilizer has to be applied in April-May. The second dose has to apply in September-October.

Under irrigated conditions, the yearly dose of fertilizers may be split into four and applied during April-May, September-October, December and February-March.

Apply fertilizers in circular basins with a radius of 25 cm during the first year. Gradually increase the radius of the basin to 120 cm by the third year. Apply fertilizers in the entire area of 1.5 m radius around the tree followed by forking in.

Plants showing zinc deficiency symptoms (narrowing of leaves, sickle leaf formation, green vein banding, chlorosis in the interveinal areas) should be sprayed with ZnSO4  (10 gram/liter of water) three times a year.

Budded plants from fan shoots have diffuse branching system and bushy growth habit. This type of growth causes difficulties in carrying out cultural operations and harvesting. Therefore, appropriate formation pruning should be done.

Pruning operation involves identification of a chupon arising from a fan shoot, allowing it to grow and removing the original, lower fan-like shoots in stages. This, however, has to be done slowly as an early drastic pruning will inhibit growth.

When cocoa is grown as an intercrop in coconut and arecanut plantation, it is desirable to restrict the growth to one tier formed at a convenient height preferably above the head level of the workers.

When jorquetting takes place at lower levels this can be raised by nipping off all the fan branches and allowing one chupon to develop and grow further to jorquette at the desired height.

After this is achieved, further vertical growth is arrested through periodical removal of chupons.

After the establishment of the trees in the garden, prune them to the extent of retaining only the required number of leaves (20-30 leaves per developing pod).

If sufficient moisture is not present in the soil due to prolonged drought or failure of rains, irrigation is to be given once in five days. Irrigation helps in better growth of plants and precocity in bearing.

Top working technique is useful to rejuvenate old and unproductive cocoa plants and also to convert genetically poor yielders to high yielders. This consists of snapping back the desired trees below the jorquette after cutting half way and doing path budding.

Top worked trees start yielding heavily from the second year onwards. About 50 per cent improved yield is obtained in the second year and about 100 per cent improved yield in the third year.