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close this bookBetter Farming Series 22 - Cocoa (FAO - INADES, 1977, 32 p.)
close this folderChoosing seeds and growing seedlings
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentChoosing seeds
View the documentSowing seed sin nursery beds or in baskets
View the documentLifting seedlings from nursery beds


4. The grower can buy at research centres

· either selected seeds of good quality He sows the seeds in a nursery bed or in baskets. Later, he plants out the seedlings in the plantation.

· or young seedlings of good quality He plants them straight away in the plantation.

5. But some growers have no research centre nearby.

They can nevertheless have good cocoa plantations by:

· choosing their own seeds,

· sowing their seeds in a nursery bed,

· planting out their seedlings in the plantation.

Nursery bed Is the name for the place where the seeds are sown to make them germinate.

Choosing seeds

If you want to have fine cocoa trees which produce a lot of big pods, you must choose carefully the seeds you are going to sow.

6. If you choose your own seeds:

· choose the biggest pods from the trees which bear a lot of fruit.

The good quality of the tree and of the seed enters into the new plant, which will also yield many big pods.

The best seeds for sowing are those from the middle of the pod.

7. Sow the seeds as you remove them from the pod

Never keep the pods more than one week, otherwise the germ may die.

If the germ is dead, the plant will not grow.

8. In some countries cocoa seeds are often sown directly in the plantation, that is, where the trees are to grow.

But this is a bad way of sowing, for many of the plants will not grow, and you cannot choose the best seedlings.

Takes the best beans from the middle of the pod

Sowing seed sin nursery beds or in baskets

9. A good grower should sow cocoa seeds in nursery beds:

Choose a small plot, quite flat, with light and rich soil.

If the site is near a little stream, watering will be easier.

Till the soil fairly deeply, and break up all the lumps of earth so that you get a fine filth.

Make beds of soil 120 centimetres wide:

· Leave a little path of 60 centimetres between one bed and the next, so that you can walk between the beds.

· Take a piece of string and mark out little furrows in each bed.

· Leave 25 centimetres between one furrow and the next.

· In each furrow, leave 25 centimetres between seeds.

Do not push the seed in too deeply, otherwise it will not have enough air and will not grow well.

Nursery bed for cocoa tree seedlings

Cocoa seeds can also be sown In baskets or bags.

10. When the seedlings are lifted from the nursery bed, the roots may break and little earth remains around the roots.

To avoid this, water the beds before lifting the seed lings.
Sometimes the young seedlings do not grow well and do not gain much height.
Some of them die.

11. To make the cocoa trees grow better, sow your seeds in small baskets or polyethylene bags. These baskets or bags can be about 30 centimetres high and 20 centimetres wide. Fill them with fine soil mixed with manure. Put the baskets or bags in rows and leave a little path between the rows.

Young cocoa tree in a basket

You should take good care of the asedlings in seed beds or baskets.

12. Young cocoa tree seedlings are very delicate; you must protect them from the sun. Put them in the shade.

In order to protect the seed beds or the baskets from the sun put up a screen 180 centimetres high above each bed. You can cover this screen with palm fronds.

Young seedlings need a lot of water. Water them every day.

Remove the weeds which take nourishment away from the seedlings. Look for insects and kill them, pull out diseased plants and burn them.

Cocoa seed bed under a screen

Lifting seedlings from nursery beds

13. Six months after sowing, when the seedlings have two leaves, take the young cocoa tree seedlings out of the nursery beds.

If you wait too long, the seedlings will be too old and will not grow so easily.
Remove the seedlings from the nursery beds with a spade.
Be very careful not to break the roots.
Sort out the young cocoa seedlings.
Throw away diseased seedlings and badly grown seedlings.
Use only the healthiest seedlings.

14. If you have sown your seeds in baskets, place the baskets in holes dug in the plantation.
There is no need to remove the basket, as it will rot in the earth.
If you have sown your seeds in polyethylene bags, remove the bag.
Place the ball of earth with the seedling into the hole.