A cocoa tree is a perennial crop that is gown for its beans. Hybrid coco varieties start fruiting after 3 – 4 years. The old open pollinated cocoa varieties start fruiting after 6- 8 years. The question now is how to make cocoa trees grow faster.
Cocoa farming is lucrative especially in Nigeria. The demand for cocoa beans globally is high. The demand keeps increasing every year.
To make cocoa trees grow faster, there are a number of strategies that can be used. The strategies will be discussed extensively in this post.
Strategies to Use to Make Cocoa Trees Grow Faster
The following are some of the tactics that can be implemented to make a cocoa tree grow faster:
The Use of the Right Fertilizers
Fertilizers are not commonly used for cocoa farming in Nigeria, cocoa farmers erroneously believe that fertilizers are not needed for cocoa.
Most cocoa farmers do not even conduct a soil test before applying fertilizers on their crops. Using the right types of fertilizers for your cocoa trees can speed up the growth of the crop.
The use of high phosphorus fertilizers at the early stage, use of high nitrogen fertilizers at the vegetative stage and the use of high potassium and calcium fertilizers at the flowering and fruiting stage can significantly enhance the growth of the cocoa crop.
Micronutrients, farmyard manure and compost should also be used. The use of the wrong type of fertilizers can harm the cocoa tree and slow its growth.
The Use of Drip Irrigation
Cocoa is usually grown under rain fed system in Nigeria. In Nigeria, farmers only plant their cocoa seedlings at the onset of the rainy season. The cocoa trees get enough water only during the rainy season. The trees go without water in the dry season of the year..
Can you imagine the growth rate of a cocoa tree that gets water all year round through irrigation and one that only relies on rains during the rainy season months?
Drip irrigation enables the slow passing of water to the roots of the cocoa trees. It ensures all year round cultivation of crops. With drip irrigation, the growth of cocoa trees can be sped up.
Fertigation which enables the passing of soluble fertilizers to the roots of crops can also enhance the growth of cocoa trees.
Weeds can deprive your cocoa trees of water and nutrients. Weeds also harbor pests and diseases which can be inimical to the growth of your cocoa trees.
The control of weeds in cocoa farming can fasten the growth of your cocoa trees. Weeds can be controlled with the use of herbicides. They can also be removed by hand or mechanically.
The mechanical removal of weeds is usually faster than the hand removal of weeds.
Pests and Diseases’ Control
The activities of pests like insects, aphids, nematodes and mites etc. can slow down the growth of your cocoa trees. Diseases can also impact the yield of your cocoa crop.
Pesticides should be used to prevent diseases and pests. In the control of pests and diseases, prevention is always better than cure. Some cocoa diseases like viral infections are not curable but they can be prevented.
Planting Hybrid Varieties of Cocoa
The conventional open pollinated variety of cocoa planted by farmers in Nigeria fruit after 5 – 6 years.
The planting of hybrid cocoa varieties can significantly reduce the time to maturity and fruiting of the cocoa crop. Some hybrid oil pam varieties start fruiting after 3 years.
Do you know other methods to make cocoa trees grow faster? If yes, why not share with us in the comments’ section.