Cocoa pods take 150-170 days from pollination to attain the harvest stage.
The stage of maturity is visible from the change of pod colour from green to yellow (Forestero) and red to yellow (Criollo).
Collection of seeds from biclonal or polyclonal seed gardens involving superior self-incompatible parents is recommended to ensure genetic superiority of planting materials.
In coconut nursery, a poly clonal seed garden with 7 improved clones of KAU (CCRP1 to CCRP7) and Vittal cocoa clone 1 and 4 hybrids namely VTLCH1 to VTLCH4. Criteria for selection of mother plants for collection of seeds:
Forastero type (green- immature, yellow- ripe) having medium to large pods of not less than 350 g weight, smooth or shallow furrows on the surface without prominent constriction at the neck can be selected.
Husk thickness of pods should be less than 1 cm.
Pod value (number of pods to give 1 kg wet beans) should be less than 12.
Number of beans per pod has to be more than 35.
Bean dry weight to be more than 1 g.
The best seeds for sowing are those from the middle of the pod.
As the seedling progenies showed wider genetic variability, to maintain true to types, asexual or vegetative propagation is followed.
Grafting and budding are being followed in multiplication of cocoa.
It also ensures multiplication of identified high yielding clones in large quantities.
Though vegetative propagation of cocoa by budding, rooting of cutting and grafting are feasible, the widely accepted methods in India are budding and grafting.
Budding: Patch budding
10-12 month old seedlings
Bud patch of 2.5 cm length and 0.5 cm width from the bud wood
Cocoa is usually grown in areas where water availability is adequate.
Cocoa plants are sensitive to drought, irrigation in such cases becomes essential.
During summer, as it exists in Southern India, the crop requires irrigation at weekly intervals.
When it is grown as mixed crop with arecanut, the crop is to be irrigated once in a week during November-December, once in 6 days during January-March and once in 4-5 days during April-May with 175 litres of water.
Soil nutrient management is critical to the general health of the tree, particularly where cocoa is grown on poor soils with low nutrient levels.
The fertility of soils under cocoa plantations with complete canopy formation can be maintained or sustained for a fairly long time due to the ability of cocoa fallen leaves to recycle nutrients back into the soil and decomposition of leaf litter.
However, continuous harvesting will eventually result in loss of soil nutrients
Fertilizer schedule for cocoa
An annual application of the following schedule should be applied in two equal splits, the first dose in April- May and the second dose in September- October i.e. pre and post monsoon applications.
Fertilizer (g/ plant)
III year onwards
Muriate of Potash
Method of application
Fertilizer may be applied uniformly around the base of the tree up to a radius of 30 cm during the first year, forked and incorporated into the soil.
For grown up plants the best method is to rake and mix the fertilizers with soil in shallow basins of around 75 cm.
This radius may be increased gradually upto 150 cm after third year.
Care should be taken not to spill the inorganic fertilizers on the trunk, branches or leaves of young trees in order to avoid burning
Fertilizers can be applied through drip irrigation system (fertigation).
Weighed quantity of fertilizers as per schedule was dissolved in water and then injected to sub-main through venturi and then to lateral lines as per treatment.
Drip irrigation is done once in 2 days.
The fertilizers are applied through drip irrigation at weekly intervals. 100:40:140 kg of N, P and K are applied through drip and fertigation in different stages of crop growth as detailed below.
Phases of crop
No. of weeks
*Water soluble fertilizers (NPK (%))
1st season flower initiation
January & February
April and May
Fruit maturity, harvest and 2nd season flower initiation
June and July
September & October
Fruit maturity and harvest
November & December
*Water soluble fertilizers :
All 19(19% N: 19 % P: 19 % K), Mono – Ammonium Phosphate (MAP – 12:61:00 % NPK), Proprietary water Soluble form of N and K fertilizers containing 13% N and 45 % K (Multi ‘K’) and Urea (46% N)
100 % RDF as WSF through fertigation by drip irrigation recorded more pod weight (486.82 g), number of pods tree-1 (56.87), Pulp + bean weight pod-1 (148.79 g), number of beans per pod (48.62), single bean fresh weight (3.10g), single bean dry weight (1.24 g) and dry weight of the beans per tree (3.429 g).
The basic aim of pruning cocoa trees is to encourage a tree structure that allows sunlight to filter through to the main branches and trunk (what is known as a jorquette) to stimulate flowering and facilitate harvesting.
Pruning generally takes place twice a year.
The first pruning is done after the main harvest (from April to July) and just before the rainy season, and the second pruning five months later, during the months of November and December.
Young plants should develop a jorquette at a height of about 1 meter.
It has been found that increasing light in-tensity decreases the jorquette-height.
If a jorquette is considered too low, it can be cut off. The strongest of the re-growing chupon can be selected and all others removed.
In due course, this chupon will produce a jorquette at a higher level. Vegetatively propagated plants generally form a jorquette at ground level.
Fan branches should be limited to 3 to 4 to allow more light to enter and decrease the humidity within the canopy.
Basal chupons should be removed at regular intervals and all lower branches that form or bend below the jorquette should be trimmed off.
Furthermore all branches within 60 cm of the jorquette, all old and diseased branches and branches growing into the centre of the tree canopy should be removed.
This should be done at regular intervals through maintenance pruning.
All prunings should be left in the field to rot down, except the diseased ones.
Diseased or unwanted branches with vascular die- back and water shoots are to be removed to maintain the health and vigour of the tees.
It include removing all unnecessary chupons, dead branches, climbing plants, rodents- damaged and over ripe pods.
Pruning the trees at 20 % canopy removal will increase the number of flower cushions per tree and number of fruits per tree and it reduces the light transmission (12.72 %) and increases the chlorophyll content (1.961 mg g-1)
It colonizes on the tender parts of the plant such as growing tips of the shoots, the terminal buds, the flower cushions, the young cherelles and mature pods.
Feeding of mealy bugs induces cherelle wilt.
Spraying of Neem Oil 3% or fish oil rosin soap 25g/litre
Spraying of any one of the following chemicals is recommended : Dimethoate (2 ml/litre) , Profenophos (2 ml/litre), Chlorpyriphos (5 ml/litre), Buprofezin (2 ml/litre), Imidacloprid (0.6 ml/lit), Thiamethoxam (0.6g/litre)
In the area where P. marginatus alone occurs, field release of Acerophagus papayae, the encyrtid parasitoid @ 100 per hamlet is recommended as the best management strategy.
2. Tea mosquitoe bugs (Helopeltis antonii)
Infested pods develop circular water soaked spots around the feeding punctures.
Punctures subsequently turn pitch black in color.
Deformation of pods occurs because of multiple feeding injuries.
Spraying of Neem Oil 3% is recommended.
Spraying of any one of the following chemicals is recommended: Imidacloprid (0.6 ml/lit) , Thiamethoxam (0.6g/litre), Profenophos (2 ml/litre), Carbaryl (2g/lit)
3.Flatid Plant hoppers
Nymphs and adults suck the sap from flowers, tender shoots and pods.
They excrete honey dew resulting in the development of sooty mould fungus on the leaves and pods.
Foliar application of a newer molecule Thiacloprid @ 2 ml/litre twice at 5 days interval is recommended for the management of these flatid plant hoppers.
4. Aphids (Toxoptera aurantii and Aphis gossypii)
They colonize on the underside of tender leaves, succulent stem, flower buds and small cherelles.
Heavy infestation may occur during hot summer and after rainy season which brings about premature shedding of flowers and curling of leaves.
They cause serious leaf damage on seedlings and young trees.
Foliar spray of acephate @ 2g/litre of water
6. Stem Girdler, Sthenias grisator
Female beetle which girdles the branches and inserts whitish spindle shaped eggs singly into the tissue in a slanting manner.
Due to mechanical injury caused by girdling and oviposition, the branches above the girdle wither and dry.
Swab Coal tar + Kerosene @ 1:2 or carbaryl 50 WP 20 g / litre, after scraping the loose bark to prevent oviposition by adults.
Hook out the grub from the bore hole and apply monocrotophos 36 WSC 5 to 10 ml/ bore hole (or) one celphos tablet (3 g aluminum phosphide)/bore hole (or) apply carbofuran 3G 5 g/bore hole and plug with mud.
Injection of dichlorvas (DDVP) + monocrotophos solution into bore holes after removing the webs and subsequently sealing of the holes with clay gives satisfactory control of the pest.
Non- Insect pests
Rats (Rattus rattus) and squirrels (Funambulus trisriatus and F. palmarum) are the major rodent pests of cocoa.
They cause serious damage to the pods.
The rats usually gnaw the pods near the stalk portion whereas squirrels gnaw the pods in the center
The rats can be controlled by placing 10 g bromadiolone (0.005%) wax cakes or ripe banana stuffed with carbofuran on the branches of cocoa trees twice at an interval of 10-12 days.
Squirrels are best controlled by trapping with wooden or wire mesh single catch ‘live’ trap with ripe coconut kernel as the bait.