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Cacao (con't)

Care and Maintenance


Manual by ring weeding method 1 meter radius from the stem as removed with the use of sickle.


In the absence of soil analysis (PCARRD, 1989) recommended rates of fertilizer application for various ages of trees as shown below.

Months after field planting
1 6.4 6.4 6.4
4 8.5 8.5 8.5
8 8.5 8.5 8.5
12 12.8 12.8 12.8
18 17.0 17.0 17.0
24 27.0 27.3 38.5
TOTAL 80.5 80.5 91.7


Pruning is done to increase cacao production

  • Reduce pest and diseases infestation
  • Control the shape and height of the tree
  • Control the shape and height of the tree, to ensure easy access for harvesting.
  1. Pruning cocoa trees can increase production, make tree maintenance easier, and reduce pest infestation and diseases
  2. Maintenance pruning starts with regularly removing the low hanging branches or those that grow downwards.
  3. Second remove regularly the chupons on the stem.
  1. Also remove all shoots and additional branches that are within 60 cm of the jorquette. Removal of shoots is necessary to avoid production of non-essential branches.
  2. Furthermore, it is important to remove regularly all dead, diseased and badly damaged branches.
  3. Top pruning of the highest branches ( up to 4 meters) in order to keep the tree short for easy regular harvesting and maintenance.
  1. In addition to this it is recommended to open the center of the tree by pruning in the shape of a champagne glass in order to reduce humidity and increase sunshine.
  2. The cocoa pod borer does not like the sunshine and increased wind. The additional sunshine to the stem will increase flowering as well.
  1. The best time for heavy pruning is after the high production cycle, approximately one month before the rainy season. After pruning it is recommended to apply fertilizer.
  2. Pruning has to be done regularly and correctly, results in more pods on the tree with less infestation and diseases.

Rehabilitation of Old Cacao Trees by Side Grafting

Rehabilitation can be carried out by removal or replacement of the existing unproductive trees: through side grafting or through bark grafting. Side grafting involves the utilization of scions from plants known for high yield and quality beans to be side grafted to existing unproductive trees in the plantation.

    Steps in Side Grafting
    1. Find the hard leaf flush from "super trees".
    2. Prepare budsticks for side grafting.
    3. Close-up of prepared budsticks.
    4. Make first horizontal deep cut on the main trunk of unproductive tree.
    5. Shave bark downward into the cut.
    6. Make sure original cut is through the bark to the white wood inside.
    7. Make two cuts downward from the horizontal cut.
    8. Create "window" by peeling the bark neatly and cleanly downward to reveal the white sapwood (cambium) inside.
    9. Insert budstick into window as illustrated
    10. Tie window closed with straw (younger tree).
    11. Here, graft is tied securely with straw (older tree).
    12. cacao_grafting1cacao_grafting2

    13. Cover side graft with plastic bag and tie tightly against the tree with raffia. Remove plastic bag after one month.
    14. Another younger tree with side graft covered with plastic bag and tied tightly against the tree with raffia. Remove plastic bag after one month.
    15. Repeat the same steps for the 2nd and 3rd. Each tree should have three grafts to begin with. Be sure each graft are at least 30 cms apart and opposite each other.
    16. Cut the main tree with chainsaw at least 1 foot above the ground in a slanting manner.
    17. Apply Tar or paint on the cut portion
    18. Ringweed the stump 1 ft. around and and apply animal manure or organic fertilizer in the stump holes.
    19. Apply organic fertilizer and control pest & diseases regularly.

Pest and Disease Management

Most common cacao pests in the Philippines are: Cacao Pod Borer, Vascular Streak Dieback, Helopeltis and Cacao Stem Borer. Whereas, the most common cacao disease is Black Pod.

  1. Cacao Pod Borer (Conopormorpha cramelerella)

    • Regular harvesting (weekly harvesting of all ripe pods) in order to break the lifecycle of the pest.
    • Sanitation; which includes to bury all empty cacao pod husks, but also to remove all other diseased pods, black pods, and pods eaten by animals from the trees
    • Pruning; to increase the sunlight, which the pest does not favor.
    • Bagging or sleeving of the young pods with newspaper and stapler (or plastic bag)
    • Fertilizer; to increase the general health of the tree and in addition increasing cacao production.

  2. Vascular Streak Dieback (caused by Oncobasidium theobromae)

    • Sanitation pruning - cut off infected branches at 30 cm below the infected area, and burn the infested cuttings
    • Nurseries should use polyethylene roofing to ensure spores cannot land on the seedlings
    • Shade on the cacao trees should be reduced to lower humidity
    • Plant VSD tolerant varieties such as hybrids PA 173 x SCA 9, PA 138 x SCA 9, ICS 39 x SCA 6, PA 156 x IMC 67, PA 156 x SCA 9, ICS 95 x SCA 6, clones PBC 123, PBC 159, ICS 95 and others.

  3. Black Pod Rot and Canker Control Method (caused by Phytophtora palmivora)

    • Frequent harvesting to avoid pathogen sporulation.
    • Harvest all the infested, dead and mummified pods and ideally destroy or bury them.
    • Prune the cacao trees and shade trees to reduce humidity.
    • Have a good drainage system so that the spores cannot spread in puddles of water.
    • Trees that have died due to tree canker should be cut down and destroyed.
    • Scraping off the bark from the infected area and put paint or soap on it.

  4. Helopeltis Control method (Helopeltis: a sap-sucking bud)

    • Typically, Helopeltis likes open canopies and sunlight penetration. Still, one should prune the trees carefully and reduce shade if it is too heavy - this is to allow better visibility on the disease and better application of control methods. (Note: if pruning is too rigorous, new chupons will grow which are a feeding ground for Helopeltis).
      • General sanitation of farm
      • Regular harvesting

  5. Stem Borer Control Method (Zeuzera)

    • Cut off infested braches at 40 cm below the lowest larvae hole. These branches should be destroyed.
    • After pruning of an infested tree, big branches, especially those with stem borer holes, should be burned.
    • The hole can be covered or plugged with mud or wood to prevent the larva to come out, so that it cannot feed and hatch, or cannot breathe.
    • Poking the larvae out with a piece of wire.
    • Squirt some soap solution in the exit hole. After a while, the larva will emerge from the hole, probably driven out by the unpleasant soap fume. Catch and kill the Stem Borer.

Other Pest and Disease

Leaf Eater Damage

Cause:  Insects such as caterpillars, cocoa loopers, grasshoppers, locusts, leaf cutting ants, leaf beetles.

Solution:   Chemical control is effective. Shade management is also important. Some shade trees such as Leucaena are often associated with more caterpillar problems. Open sunny conditions attract locusts and grasshoppers. Red weaver ants may be effective in controlling leaf beetles.

Cause:  Insects. Possibly Rhyparid beetle.

Solution:  Chemical control, or biological with crazy ant. Control with light traps is also possible.



Sap suckers on young leaves

Cause:  Insect such as thrips, aphids, leaf hoppers and pysillids.

Solution:  Chemical control. Take care to spray underneath the leaves as well as on top.

Insect sap suckers

Cause:  Thrips or aphids.

Solution:  Control with chemicals and shade management. Target spraying to affected plants only. Thrips have natural enemies such as pirate bugs watch out for them and avoid spraying them.

Harvest Management

Pod harvesting

Don't harvest green pods and avoid over ripe pods because bean size and quality will be reduced. Use secateurs to harvest cleanly and safely, to protect flowering cushions

Pod storage

We should collect pods and store for 7 - 9 days for quicker fermentation and better flavor of cocoa beans.

Pod opening and bean removal

The best way is to use a non-sharpened steel blade to crack the pod then twist the pod open. You can also use a wooden hammer or crack two pods together.

Discard the placenta, pulp and soft or empty beans, germinated beans and damaged beans from the bean mass.

Correct pod disposal is important to avoid pest and disease buildup. The safest ways are composting or burying after drying. Avoid leaving pod husks on the ground, as insects and diseases can spread from these pods.

Bean fermentation

During cocoa bean fermentation, it is important to:

  • Turn the bean mass after 2 days (48 hours) and 4 days (96 hours)
  • Drain the juices (sweatings) from the bean mass
  • Only use properly constructed wooden boxes with slats, or baskets
  • Cover the beans with banana leaves and jute bags or cloth rags
  • Fermentation will be completed in about 5- 6 days
  • All mixing of beans should be made by wooden tools or hands
Bean drying

Once the beans have been fermented they must be dried immediately under the sun on drying trays or baskets turned regularly. It is important to:

  • Cover with plastic shelters during rain or remove the beans to a dry spot.
  • During drying separate bean clusters, remove pod placenta, and flat, damaged or germinated beans.
Avoid using wood fired kilns that produce smoke- this is not an approved drying method and will result in smoke contaminated cocoa!
Bagging and storage

Keep bags of beans on a wooden palette in a dry and ventilated place. Don't put hot beans into plastic bags to avoid mould and moisture increased.

Record keeping

Record all weight of pods harvested, wet bean fermented, beans dried in a record book, and dates of harvest, fermentation and drying.

Suitability Map

"Sustainable Cacao Production" Production Technology Manual. Cocoa Foundation of the Philippines, Inc. (CocoaPhil)

Lecture Presentations prepared by Dr. Romulo Cena, Professor II and Plant Breeder, University of Southern Mindanao and Ms. Ludivina Dumaya, Assistant Coordinator, IPM Regional Program DA Region 12 and Dr. Nicolas Richards, Chief of Staff, SUCCESS Alliance Program of the Philippines, USDA as presented during the Training of Trainors' held at Malagos Resort, Davao City April 2007 and Bulwagang Princesa, Puerto Princesa, Palawan May, 2007

Lecture Presentations prepared by Dr. Nicolas Richards, Chief of Staff, SUCCESS Alliance Program of the Philippines, USDA as presented during the Nursery Establishment and Maintenance for Cacao Growers Training held March 29-30, 2007