How Long Does It Take to Grow Cocoa?

September 11, 2022

Cocoa is a perennial crop grown in tropical areas of the world. Cocoa trees produce cocoa beans which can be prcessed into chocolate, cocoa butter and other derivatives.

It takes about 3 – 4 years for a cocoa crop to grow and start fruiting. Hybrid cocoa varieties like CRIN TC series can start fruiting as early as 3 years while the open pollinated cocoa varieties like Amelonado and Criollo may start fruiting after 5 – 7 years.

There are a lot of factors that impact how long it takes for a cocoa crop to grow and start fruiting. This post will explain these factors.

cocoa farming in Nigeria

How long it takes different cocoa varieties to grow

CRIN TC Series

The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) TC 1 – 8 are hybrid cocoa varieties that can start fruiting as early as 3 years. These hybrid cocoa varieties are resistant to some pests and diseases, they also yield far higher than the open pollinated cocoa varieties.

It takes 3 – 4 years for the hybrid TC series to grow and start fruiting. CRIN TC series are popular among new farmers practising cocoa farming.

Criollo Cocoa Variety

It takes 5 – 7 years for Criollo cocoa variety that grow and start fruiting. Criollo is an open pollinated cocoa variety that originated from Central America.

Criollo has been grown by cocoa farmers in Nigeria as early as the 1950s. It takes a long time before fruiting and it is susceptible to diseases like cocoa black pod disease.

Amelonado Cocoa Variety

Amelonado variety of cocoa is an open pollinated variety. It is one of the oldest cocoa varieties in Nigeria. It also originated from America.

Amelonado matures in 5 – 8 years. It is not as diseases and pests resistant as the CRIN TC series.

Factors that impact how long it takes for a cocoa crop to grow

The following are some of the factors that affect how long it takes for cocoa to grow in Nigeria:

Climatic Conditions

Cocoa is a tropical crop that grows well in tropical areas. It needs a temperature of 20 – 37 Celsius to grow well. Cocoa grown in areas with abundant sunshine and rainfall will grow faster than cocoa grown in areas with low temperature with low level of rainfall.


Cocoa is grown under rain fed system in Nigeria. There is a misconception that cocoa needs rains for just few months in a year. Cocoa grown under drip irrigation can grow 25 – 50% faster than cocoa grown with the rain fed system.

Soil Fertility

The fertility of the soil can impact how long a cocoa crop can grow. If your soil is fertile, your cocoa crop may likely grow faster.

Application of Fertilizers

Farmers including cocoa farmers do not use the right type and quantity of fertilizers for their crops in Nigeria. If you feed your cocoa crops with the right type and dose of fertilizers, the cocoa crop may likely grow faster.

Plant Population

The population of cocoa trees on your farmland can impact how long it takes for the cocoa crop to grow.

Farms that are too crowded with cocoa trees may delay fruiting as some of the trees will be shaded. Shading can impact photosynthesis and delay the growth of plants.

Do you grow cocoa in Nigeria? If yes, why not share with us in the comments’ section, how long it took your cocoa crop to grow.

Read our latest article on the best insecticide for cocoa.

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