Chocolate lover? If so, surely you’ve ever wanted to have a constant anticipation of this sweet, right? And it is delicious. But, although you can go directly to a supermarket to buy tablets, I suggest that grow it yourselfat home. We are not going to fool ourselves: it is not very easy if you live in a cool climate, but the truth is that it is well worth a try. Learn how to grow cocoa.
In this article we are going to tell you everything you need to know about how to grow cocoa and what requirements it needs.
Cocoa comes from the tree scientifically known as theobroma cacao. It grows to a height of about 6m, with evergreen and lanceolate leaves. It grows under the shade of other taller arboreal plants, such as the palm tree Cocoa nuts in the Amazon basin. It is, therefore, tropical, very sensitive to cold, so It can only be grown outdoors in areas where minimum temperatures are always above 10ºC..
If you still want to try, you can have it inside your home during the colder monthsin a very bright room, and protected from drafts. In this way, you can have your own cocoa plant even if the winter climate is not the most suitable for it. When this tree grows freely and under intense shade, it can reach heights of up to 20 meters. It has a dense crown with a rounded shape and a diameter of 7-9 meters. The trunk can develop in different ways depending on the growing conditions.
They do not usually have very deep roots, since most of them are about a foot above the ground. As for its leaves, they are green and variable. There are some specimens that have light brown, purple, or paler green leaves. Its flowers have no ornamental interest since they are small in size. They form in small clusters and around the old leaves. The calyx of the flowers has a pink color while the corolla has a white color.
The fruit, which is cocoa, has a variable size and shape. It is generally berry-shaped and measures 30 inches long and 10 inches in diameter. They are usually divided into 5 cells.
Requirements for growing cocoa
The first of all is to know the climatic requirements that cocoa needs to grow. The genetic factors that affect the development to cultivate that killed the temperature and rainfall. Wind and light affect them, although to a lesser extent. It must be taken into account that the cocoa that it is a plant that must be developed in the shade. Therefore, it must be located in a place where it does not perceive a ray of light directly. Being in the shade you have to control the degree of humidity very much since they can contribute to the spread of some diseases.
All these climatic demands mean that most of the cocoa crops in the world are found in tropical areas.
Temperature and water
Cocoa does not support very low temperatures, the average annual limit being about 21 degrees. As you might expect, for cocoa to be grown you must live in a climatic zone with high temperatures on average. On the other hand, if the temperatures are extremely high, it can cause physiological problems in the tree. This makes it imperative that the tree has to be in the shade so that the sun’s rays do not block directly on the leaves and the temperature increases further.
The temperature is what determines the amount of information in the flowers. When it is less than 21 degrees the flowering is much less. This causes that in certain zones the production is seasonal. For a few weeks there may be no harvests as long as temperatures stay within the mentioned range.
As for water, it is a type of plant that is quite sensitive to water scarcity. It does not withstand too long in droughts so it is necessary to maintain a sufficient degree of humidity so that the roots do not suffer. On the other hand, it does not tolerate waterlogging either. This means that we have to grow cocoa in soil that has good drainage. Stagnation of water can cause suffocation of the roots and their death in a short time. Water needs They range from approximately 1500-2500 mm in the warmest areas and 1200-1500 mm in the coldest areas.
This is a plant whose seeds germinate very well. The first thing to do is, obviously, acquire them. If you can, take them directly from the tree, and if not, you can buy them in online stores. When you have them at home, you have to remove the white mucilage that surrounds the seed coat. To make it easier, put them in a glass of boiling water for 1 second and 24 hours in another glass with water at room temperature.
They are then sown in seedling trays or pots, putting a maximum of 2 in each. Use a porous substrate, such as the following mixture: 60% black peat + 30% perlite + 10% earthworm humus (or any other organic compost). Keep it moist, but not watery, and above all hot. Thus, the ideal sowing time is spring or, even more recommended, summer.
When they are about 10cm tall, you can transplant them to individual pots using the same substrate mixture, or to soil if you live in a frost-free climate. Put them in an area where they do not receive the sun directly, and water them frequently, between 3 and 4 times a week in summer and between 2-3 the rest of the year.
As you can see, the cultivation of cocoa is quite simple as long as the somewhat more demanding environmental conditions that it requires in terms of climate and the need for shade are maintained.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about how to grow cocoa and its requirements.