ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Average sunshine in Ivory Coast's main cocoa-growing regions last week was sufficient for the development of the October-to-March main crop, though overcast weather continued to raise fears of disease in certain areas, farmers said on Monday.
The harvest is likely to be abundant for the first three months and may start as early as mid-September since there are lots of small and medium-sized pods on the trees, farmers said.
Ivory Coast is the world's top cocoa producer.
"We are satisfied with the growth of small pods," said Salame Kone, who farms near the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt.
"We have enough fruit on the trees for an abundant harvest. But we still need more moisture and lots of sun," Kone added.
Similar growing conditions were reported in the western regions of Duekoue and Gagnoa and in the coastal region of Sassandra.
In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces about a quarter of national output, farmers said more sun and rain was needed.
"If there is good sun and rain in the coming weeks, the harvest will last through December," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms near Daloa.
But in the southern regions of Aboisso and Agboville, farmers feared that overcast weather could bring disease.
"The weather is too cloudy. It's making us worried about black pod disease," said Etienne Yao, who farms in the outskirts of Aboisso.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Nellie Peyton and David Evans)