Cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.); Malvaceae

There are three varietal types in cocoa namely Criollo, Forastero and Trinitario.
Forastero types are known to perform well under Indian conditions.
                                             KAU, Kerala                                                                                                         CPCRI- RS, Vittal
                                   Varieties              Hybrids                                                                                         Varieties                   Hybrids
                                    CCRP 1,                CCRP 8,                                                                                          VTLCC 1                   VTLCH 1,
                                    CCRP 2,               CCRP 9                                                                                                                            VTLCH 2
                                     CCRP 3,              CCRP 10                                                                                                                           VTLCH 3
                                     CCRP 4,                                                                                                                                                       VTLCH 4            
                                     CCRP 6 and
                                     CCRP 7

Potash rich alluvial soils friable in nature with high humus and moisture retentivity with a pH of 6.6 – 7.0 are suitable. Cocoa is normally cultivated at altitudes upto 1200 m above MSL with an annual rainfall of 150 cm and a relative humidity of 80 % and annual mean temperature of 240C to 250C. Cocoa can be grown as intercrop in coconut and arecanut gardens

June – July and September – October.

Propagated by seeds. Before sowing the seeds the pulp adhering to the seeds has to be removed. Cocoa seeds are individually sown in polybags soon after extraction.

The bags are filled with pot mixture containing.
 Red soil -2 parts
 Sand -1 part

 FYM- 1 part
 Superphosphate – 5 kg/t of the above mixture
This can be filled in 320 gauge polythene bag with 30 cm height and 20 cm width provided with two holes in the bottom. Nursery plants are ready for transplanting at 6 months of age when they attain a height of 60 cm.


Seedlings are transplanted with a ball of earth in 45x45x45cm pits at a spacing of 3 x 3 m either way. Stake the plants to ensure upright growth and early establishment. Periodical mulching with leaves and watering should be done. Temporary shade has to be provided

Cocoa is a shade loving plant. During its seedling period it requires about 50% shade and later the shade requirement is about 40%. The plant is grown as a mixed crop with other plants like spices and rubber mainly under rainfed conditions. Cocoa is planted as an
intercrop in coconut and arecanut gardens.
Main crop                          Spacing(m)                                                   Cocoa as inter crop
Coconut                                   7.5 x 7.5                                 One cocoa row of plants at 3m interval at the center of two coconut rows and one                                                                                                         cocoa at the center of two coconut plants along the coconut row. This layout will hold                                                                                                    about 500 plants per hectare
Arecanut                                   2.7 x 2.7                               One cocoa row of plants at 2.7m interval at the center of two arecanut rows. Likewise                                                                                                     alternate gaps of recanut rows should be filled in. This layout will hold about 686                                                                                                              plants/ha. Oil palm 4.5 x 4.5 Five cocoa plants would come between four oil palm                                                                                                          plants resulting in 400 plants per hectare.

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 NovemberDecember, once in 6 days during January-March and once in 4-5 days during April-May with 175 litres of water.

Age of the plant                                                                                             Water requirement
                                                                                                                                  (litre/ plant / day)
1st year                                                                                                                                3-5
2nd year                                                                                                                               10
3rd year and later                                                                                                            20-25

Trees of 3 years of age and above are manured with 100 g N, 40 g P and 140 g K per tree in two split doses during April – May and August – September. Trees younger than three years may be applied with half of this dose.

Fertilizer                              I year after planting(g)                      II Year after planting(g)                             III Year after planting(g)
Urea                                                    75                                                             145                                                                 200
Super phosphate                              85                                                             165                                                                 250
Muriate of Potash                             80                                                              160                                                                240
Time of application                    2 split doses / year                           3 split doses /year                                   3 split doses / year

Micronutrient application: Foliar application of FeSO4 @ 0.5% + Zn SO4 @ 0.5% in 2 split doses/ year.

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 was resorted once in
2 days. The fertilizers are applied through drip irrigation at weekly intervals. 100:40:140kg of N, P and K are applied through drip and fertigation in different stages of crop growth as detailed below.
Phases of crop                              Months                               Weeks                             No. of  weeks                         *Water soluble fertilizers (NPK (%)
1st season flower initiation           January & February                1-8                                             8                                                         12.5
Fruit set                                                    March                               9-13                                           5                                                         10.0
Fruit development                            April and May                     14-22                                          9                                                          12.5
Fruit maturity, harvest and

2nd season flower initiation           June and July                       23-30                                         8                                                          20.0
Fruit set                                                 August                               31-35                                          5                                                           12.5
Fruit development                           September & October       36-43                                         8                                                           15.0
Fruit maturity and harvest             November & December     44-52                                         9                                                           17.5
Total                                                                                                                                                                                                                  100
*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)

Formation pruning
Done in young plants of cocoa (1 year after planting). The height of first jorquette is kept at 1-1.5m from the ground.
Structural pruning
Done generally 16-24 months after planting. Done to maintain tree at optimum height.

Starts from second year of planting. Remove low and hanging branches. Remove excess number of chupons regularly. Remove unproductive branches, dead, diseased and badly damaged branches in periodical intervals.
Weeding is done as and when necessary. The unproductive shoots, dead, diseased twigs should be removed periodically. Banana is better raised as a primary shade plant in the early years of plantation.
Plough the interspaces after the receipt of rain and raise either groundnut or black gram or bhendi till the trees reach bearing age.

Tea mosquito bug
 Monitoring the incidence of tea mosquito bugs at regular intervals.
 Removal of alternate hosts like neem, cashew, guava in the surroundings
 Spray any one of the following:
o Imidacloprid (0.6 ml/l)
o Thiamethoxan (0.6 g /l)
Mealy Bug
 Monitoring the incidence of mealy bugs at regular intervals.
 Removal of alternate weed hosts like Parthenium.
 Collection and destruction of infested plant parts before spraying.
 When the infestation is lesser: Spraying of neem oil 2 % or fish oil rosin soap 25 g/l.
 On severe incidence, spraying of any one of the following chemicals is recommended.
   o Dimethoate (2 ml/l)
   o Chlorpyriphos (5 ml/l)
   o Imidacloprid (0.6 ml/l)
   o Thiamethoxam (0.6 g/l).
 Release coccinellid predator Cryptolaemus montrouzieri @ 10 nos/tree.
Spray dimethoate 35 EC 1 ml/lit at monthly intervals.
Rats & squirrels
Keep 10g of Bromodiolone (0.005%) wax cakes on the branches twice at an interval of 10-12 days.

Black pod
 Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% mancozeb or 0.25 % copper oxychloride at 20 days interval
Stem canker
 Remove the infected areas (main trunk, jorquettes or fan branches) and apply Bordeaux paste
 Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture or copper oxychloride @ 0.25 %
Charcoal pod rot
 Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture or copper oxychloride @ 0.25%

Cherelle wilt
 Spray carbendazim @ 0.1% or mancozeb @ 0.2 % or copper oxychloride @ 0.25 %
Pink disease
 Prune the affected branches and swab the cut ends regularly with Bordeaux paste

Bearing starts from 3rd year but economic yield starts from 6th year onwards. The season of harvest is April – May and November – December.

500 – 1000 kg of dry beans/ha