The dry season, or harmattan, is in full swing across West Africa, affecting three of the world’s largest producing countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria. The harmattan is a southernly shift of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) below the main cocoa-growing regions. This pattern is typical for this time of the year as rains become less frequent; dry conditions begin to cause plant stress and growing conditions deteriorate.

Rains have been scant for several weeks, and no substantial precipitation is forecast through January. Farmers are now increasingly anxious that with no timely rains after mid-January, this season’s midcrops could be in jeopardy with drought stress for cocoa trees and negative effects on flowering, pollination, and pod development.

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West Africa, percent of normal rainfall (Dec. 19 – Dec. 28)

Source: NOAA, McKeany-Flavell
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