ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Heavy rains continued last week in most of top grower Ivory Coast's main cocoa regions but increased sunny spells are expected to boost the nascent main crop, farmers said on Monday.
The 2017/18 season officially started on Oct. 1, with a government guaranteed price for farmers of 700 CFA francs ($1.27) per kg, well below growers' expectations.
Farmers said they expected strong sunny spells through the end of October to strengthen the development of cherelles and small pods and reduce the risk of disease during the October-to-March main crop.
"The intensity of the rains has dropped. The workers are harvesting on the plantations," said Etienne Yao, who farms near Aboisso in the southeast, where heavy rains were reported last week.
"The soil contains too much water. We need lots of heat to help the trees that have many pods of different sizes," he said.
Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in the Aboisso region was at 57.7 mm, or 30.8 mm above average, but down from 81.8 mm the previous week.
In the southern region of Divo, farmers were upbeat over adequate rains and improving sunshine.
"We notice the strength of the trees. They all have new leaves. That is a good sign because production will be strong and the harvest long," said Amadou Diallo, who farms on the outskirts of Divo.
Data collected by Reuters showed that rainfall in Divo region was at 48.3 mm, or 24.2 mm above average.
In the central western region of Daloa, farmers reported a healthy mix of moisture and sun.
"The black pod disease here is starting to pass. There has been lots of sunshine during the day and it rains at night," said Raphael Kouadio, who farms on the outskirts of Daloa.
Rain in the Daloa region, which includes the city of Bouafle was at 29.4 mm, 6.9 above average.
In the western Soubre region, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said there were many cherelles on the trees, which should presage a healthy crop in January and February.
"There will be cocoa this year. We have many cherelles and small pods on the trees that we are going to harvest at the beginning of next year," said Lazare Ake, who farms near Soubre.
Rain in the Soubre region was at 74.8 mm, 53.2 mm above average.
($1 = 551.0000 CFA francs)
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Aaron Ross and Louise Heavens)