The best fertilizer for cocoa is the NPK fertilizers. The NPK fertilizers are balanced fertilizers that supply nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to crops. Cocoa needs all these three macro nutrients to grow well.
Cocoa does well when grown with fertilizers. Chemical fertilizers and organic fertilizers can be used. Well rotted manure is also good for the growing of cocoa in Nigeria. Other fertilizers that can be used include potassium nitrate, Single Super Phosphate fertilizer, calcium nitrate and humates etc.
In Nigeria, a significant percentage of farmers who grow cocoa do not apply fertilizers to their cocoa crop, they erroneously believe that cocoa does not need cocoa. Yes, cocoa can grow in poor soils but it will do well when supplied with the right nutrients.
Best Fertilizer for Cocoa
The following are the best fertilizers for cocoa trees:
NPK fertilizers supply balanced quantity of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to crops. Some NPK fertilizers have boron and magnesium.
NPK fertilizers can be used at the planting stage, vegetative stage, flowering stage and fruiting stage of the cocoa crop.
Nitrogen positively impacts the leave and foliage of the cocoa tree; this has a positive effect on photosynthesis. Phosphorus optimizes the growth of the roots of the cocoa tree, it also positively impacts flowering. Potassium helps at the flowering and the fruiting stage. It also makes the cocoa crop to tolerate stresses better.
Nitrogen fertilizers like urea can also be the best fertilizer for cocoa crop for some farmers. Urea can be used to correct a chronic nitrogen deficiency in the cocoa plants. However, careless usage of nitrogen fertilizers may spell doom for the cocoa trees.
High phosphorus fertilizers are usually used for basal application in cocoa farming. Some types of phosphorus fertilizers that be used for cocoa cultivation include Single Super Phosphate (SSP) fertilizer and Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) fertilizer. These fertilizers optimize the growth of the roots.
Fertilizers like calcium nitrate, potassium nitrate, monoammonium phosphate, monopotassium phosphate are special fertilizers that can be used for cocoa farming in Nigeria. They are specialty fertilizers that supply higher contents of specific nutrients.
For example, calcium nitrate can be used to quickly correct nitrogen and calcium deficiencies in cocoa plants.
Chelates are used to supply micronutrients to plants. These micronutrients may include boron, molybdenum, silica, manganese, iron, copper and zinc etc. Though plants need these micronutrients in small amount, a deficiency in anyone of the micronutrients can lead to a significant drop in yield of your cocoa crop.
Fertilizer Recommendation for Cocoa
Age of the tree
Super Phosphate (Gram)
Muriate of Potash (Gram)
Year 5 and above
The table above shows the fertilizer recommendation for cocoa for the first five years of planting. Please note that the fertilizer recommendation is per cocoa tree. Please note that a soil test must be done before any fertilizer application.
Assuming cocoa beans yield of 4 – 11 KG per cocoa tree, in year 1, 10 kg of farm yard manure, 140 grams of urea, 230 grams of super phosphate fertilizer and 90 grams of muriate of potash fertilizer should be applied to each tree.
In year 2, 20 kg of farm yard manure, 280 grams of urea, 460 grams of super phosphate fertilizer and 180 grams of muriate of potash fertilizer should be applied to each tree.
In year 3, 30 kg of farm yard manure, 430 grams of urea, 720 grams of super phosphate fertilizer and 270 grams of muriate of potash fertilizer should be applied to each tree.
In year 4, 40 kg of farm yard manure, 550 grams of urea, 950 grams of super phosphate fertilizer and 350 grams of muriate of potash fertilizer should be applied to each tree.
In year 5, 50 kg of farm yard manure, 1100 grams of urea, 1190 grams of super phosphate fertilizer and 460 grams of muriate of potash fertilizer should be applied to each tree.
Method of Fertilizer Application in Cocoa Farming
Fertilizers are usually applied in cir ular form around the cocoa tree. The fertilizer application should be done within an area of 2 metres radius.
Shallow holes can also be dug around the cocoa trees for the placing of fertilizers. The holes or trenches should be covered with soil after the application of fertilizers.
Fertilizers should only be applied immediately after weeding. If weeds are on the cocoa farm, it is advised that these weeds are removed before the application of fertilizers.
For drip irrigated cocoa farming project, soluble fertilizers can be applied through fertigation.
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Read our latest article on the best month to plant cocoa in Nigeria.