Cocoa farming is a major agricultural industry in many parts of the world. It is the major material used for chocolate production and other beverages.
However, cocoa farms can suffer from a variety of diseases, which can cause significant losses in yield and quality.
The five most common diseases of cocoa farms are Witches Broom, Frosty Pod Rot, Black Pod Disease, Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus, and Vascular Streak Dieback.
In this article, you will be learning all about these 5 common diseases of cocoa farms including information on how to treat, prevent and control them.
5 Common Diseases of Cocoa Farm and How To Treat
Cocoa is a widely grown crop in many countries, but it does come with certain risks. Pests and diseases can cause damage and reduce yields if left untreated.
The following are five of the most common diseases of cocoa farms and how to treat them:
1. Witches Broom (Moniliophthora perniciosa)
Region: commonly occurs in Latin America
Witches Broom is a fungal disease caused by Moniliophthora perniciosa, which affects cocoa and chocolate plants.
Read Also: 5 Common Diseases of Carrots and Treatment
It causes witches’ broom-like symptoms on the plant’s leaves, stems, and fruits, including the formation of abnormal clusters of flowers, leaves, and stems.
It is highly destructive to the plant and can cause severe losses in yields and quality of the crop.
Cause of Witches Broom
This disease is caused by the fungus Moniliophthora perniciosa, which is spread in cocoa farms by wind, soil, and infected tools.
Read Also: 10 Cover Crops To Plant In Your Farm [+Its Companions Crops]
Poor farmer management practices such as the lack of crop rotation, inadequate soil fertility, and poor pruning can also contribute to the spread of Witches Broom.
Also, high temperatures, excessive rainfall, and poor air circulation can all create a conducive environment for Moniliophthora perniciosa to thrive.
Signs and Symptoms of Witches Broom
The signs and symptoms of Witches Broom in cocoa farms include abnormal growth of shoots, the presence of small, hard, and dry pods, reduced yield, and discoloration of leaves.
In some cases, the affected trees may have reddish shoots and may have a broom-like appearance. The affected pods may also have a reddish hue and may be smaller than normal.
Possible Treatment of Witches Broom
In terms of treatment, fungicides such as copper and mancozeb can be used to control the spread of the fungus. However, these fungicides can be expensive and can have adverse environmental effects. Therefore, it is important to use them judiciously.
Herbal treatments are also an option for treating witches broom. Some herbs, such as neem, garlic, and ginger, have been reported to have antifungal properties and can be used to treat witches broom.
Additionally, planting certain herbs around the cocoa farm may help to repel the fungus and reduce its spread.
Read Also: [Beginners Guide] Organic Animal Farming In South Africa
Pruning and removing infected trees may also be necessary in some cases. Chemical treatments, such as fungicides, may be used to reduce the spread of the disease and protect healthy trees. Cultural practices, such as proper fertilization and irrigation, can help reduce the spread of the disease by increasing tree vigor.
How to Control Witches Broom
The best management practice for controlling witches’ broom is to remove and destroy infected branches, preferably by burning them.
How to Prevent Witches Broom
The most effective way to control witches broom is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This can be done by planting disease-free cocoa trees, keeping soil fertility in balance, and avoiding excessive pruning and root damage.
2. Frosty Pod Rot (Moniliophthora roreri)
Region: commonly occurs in Latin America
Frosty Pod Rot is a fungal disease that affects coffee crops and can cause serious damage to your plants. The disease can cause significant damage to cocoa farms, resulting in a reduction in crop yields and quality.
Cause of Frosty Pod Rot
Frosty Pod Rot is a fungal disease caused by the pathogen Moniliophthora roreri, which is spread by the fungus’s microscopic spores in the air and by splashing rain.
The spores can be spread by wind, water, and contaminated farm tools. The fungus can thrive in cocoa pods when temperatures are between 25-30 degrees Celsius and humidity is high.
Signs and Symptoms of Frosty Pod Rot
The symptoms of Frosty Pod Rot include lesions on the cocoa pods which turn dark brown, gray, or black; pods may also become slimy, dry, and cracked; leaves may become yellow and drop prematurely; and the pods may have a strong, unpleasant odor.
Possible Treatment of Frosty Pod Rot
Frosty Pod Rot can be treated in a variety of ways.
Chemical treatments for Frosty Pod Rot include applications of fungicides such as mancozeb and captan. These should be applied at the first sign of infection before the disease has spread too far.
Herbal treatments for Frosty Pod Rot may include the use of Neem oil, garlic, and chili powder. These should be applied to the affected areas and left on for several hours before rinsing off. Also, a mixture of neem oil and water can be sprayed onto cocoa trees to reduce the severity of the disease.
How to Control Frosty Pod Rot
The use of beneficial Trichoderma species and other biological control agents can help to reduce the occurrence of Frosty Pod Rot by competing with the pathogen for resources.
Cultural controls are also important in the management of Frosty Pod Rot. This includes the removal of infected pods, crop rotation, crop sanitation, and the use of resistant varieties.
How to Prevent Frosty Pod Rot
There are several ways you can prevent frosty pod rot in your cocoa farm. These include:
1. Remove and Destroy Affected Plants
The first step in treating frosty pod rot in a cocoa farm is to remove and destroy all affected plants. This will help reduce the spread of the disease within the farm and help protect healthy plants.
2. Disinfect Tools and Equipment
All tools and equipment used in the cocoa farm should be disinfected to help prevent the spread of the disease. This includes pruning shears, shovels, hoes, and other items used for harvesting cocoa beans.
3. Apply Fungicides
Fungicides can be applied to the soil and plants to help control the spread of the disease. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fungicides.
4. Test Soils
Test the soils in the cocoa farm to determine the type of disease present and the best methods of controlling it. This can help determine which treatments are most effective.
5. Improve Drainage
Improving the drainage in the cocoa farm can help reduce the spread of the disease. This can be done by adding organic matter, such as compost, to the soil and by ensuring that the soil is not too wet.
6. Practice Crop Rotation
Crop rotation can help reduce the spread of the disease by helping to break the cycle of infection. Planting different crops in the same area each year can help prevent the disease from becoming established in the cocoa farm.
3. Black Pod (phytophthora fungus)
Region: commonly occurs in Africa, Brazil, Asia
Black Pod is a fungal disease in cocoa farms that causes dark lesions and premature ripening of cocoa pods. It can reduce the yields and quality of cocoa beans, leading to lost income for farmers.
Cause of Black Pod
Black Pod is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora palmivora that affects the pods of cocoa plants. It is one of the most damaging diseases of cocoa, causing losses of up to 80% of the crop.
The main causes of Black Pod include high humidity, poor air circulation, poor drainage, and inadequate fungicide application.
High temperatures, poor soil fertility, and overcrowding of trees can also contribute to the severity of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Black Pod
Black Pod is a fungal disease of cocoa trees that manifests as dark brown to black lesions on the pods.
Symptoms include dark lesions on the pods, reddish-brown lesions on the leaves, yellowing of the leaves, defoliation of the leaves, and premature fruit drop. More so, the infected pods will have a sour smell. If left untreated, Black Pod can severely reduce the yield of the cocoa farm.
Possible Treatment of Black Pod
Treatment for Black Pod includes removing and destroying infected pods, pruning affected branches, treating with fungicide, improving soil drainage, and cultural practices such as avoiding monocropping, rotating crops, and maintaining soil fertility can help reduce the incidence of the disease.
In addition, herbal treatment can also be used through the use of organic compounds such as neem oil, chaya leaves, and plant extracts like garlic, ginger, and black pepper.
How to Control Black Pod in Cocoa Farm
1. Implement Good Agricultural Practices
Farmers should practice good agricultural practices to reduce the incidence of Black Pod disease in cocoa farms. These practices include proper pruning, sanitation, and crop rotation, as well as proper irrigation and fertilization techniques.
2. Use Fungicides
Fungicides are the most effective way to control black pod disease in cocoa farms. Fungicides containing copper, mancozeb, or maneb are commonly used for this purpose.
3. Practice Sanitation
Farmers should practice good sanitation on the cocoa farm to reduce the spread of black pod disease. This includes removing infected pods, pruning infected branches, and disposing of infected crop residue in an appropriate manner.
4. Plant Disease-resistant Varieties
Planting disease-resistant varieties of cocoa can help reduce the incidence of black pod disease. This can be done by selecting varieties that are more tolerant to the disease.
5. Monitor the Farm
Farmers should monitor their cocoa farms regularly to identify any signs of black pod disease. Early detection and treatment can help reduce the spread of the disease and protect the crop.
How to Prevent Black Pod in Cocoa Farm
Preventive measures for the black pod in cocoa farms include maintaining a regular crop rotation schedule and maintaining good soil fertility and drainage.
Pruning and weeding should be done regularly to reduce the amount of moisture and shade in the farm.
Fungicides should be used at regular intervals and the use of resistant varieties should be encouraged.
The use of cover crops, mulching, and reflective mulches should also be employed to reduce the incidence of the black pod.
4. Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus
Region: commonly occurs in Africa
Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) is a virus that affects cocoa plants and causes swollen shoots, yellowing of foliage, and reduced yields. CSSV is spread by a whitefly vector, and is a major concern for cocoa farmers in West Africa.
Cause of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm
The Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) is caused by the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus Disease Complex, which is a result of a combination of several different viruses, including the Cocoa Mottle Virus, the Cocoa Necrosis Virus, and the Cocoa Vein Mosaic Virus.
These viruses are spread by the transmission of their associated aphids and whiteflies, which feed on the sap of the cocoa plants and inject the virus into the plant tissue.
Other factors that can contribute to CSSV are poor crop management, such as inadequate pest management, low soil fertility, and low soil moisture.
Signs and Symptoms of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm
Signs and Symptoms of the Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm include stunted growth, yellowing of foliage, and swelling of the shoots.
As the virus progresses, flowers and pods may be deformed, with the pods turning yellow, shriveled, and covered in dark lesions.
Fruits may also be shrunken and discolored. Leaves may also curl, become twisted, and develop yellow spots. Also, infected plants may produce fewer and lower-quality pods.
Possible Treatment of Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm
Treatment of cocoa swollen shoot virus is mainly chemical and herbal.
Chemical control involves the use of systemic and contact fungicides, as well as insecticides, to reduce the spread of the virus.
Herbal treatments for Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus (CSSV) in cocoa farms include applying medicinal plant extracts, such as neem, eucalyptus, and garlic, to the infected plants.
How to Control Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm
Control measures for CSSV in cocoa farms include the use of chemical, biological, and cultural control measures.
Chemical control methods for CSSV include the use of systemic insecticides to control insect vectors, such as mealybugs and mites, which can spread the virus.
Biological control methods for CSSV include the use of biological insecticides and the introduction of beneficial insects that prey on the insect vectors.
Cultural control methods for CSSV include sanitation practices, such as pruning and removal of infected plants and the use of shade trees to reduce vector populations.
How to Prevent Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in Cocoa Farm
The most effective way to treat Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus in a cocoa farm is to implement a strict sanitation and management program, such as removing infected trees and destroying them; planting healthy trees; keeping the farm free of weeds and other pests.
Also, using disease-resistant varieties of cocoa plants and maintaining proper irrigation and fertilization practices will help prevent the spread of the virus.
Finally, regular monitoring of the farm is necessary to ensure the virus does not spread further.
5. Vascular Streak Dieback
Region: commonly occurs in Africa, Brazil, Asia
Vascular streak dieback (VSD) is a deadly disease in cocoa farms that is caused by the fungus Oncobasidium theobromae.
This disease is spread through the root systems of the cocoa plants, causing them to wilt, yellow, and die.
VSD can kill up to 70% of a cocoa farm’s crop if left unchecked, making it one of the most serious threats to cocoa production around the world.
Cause of Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm
Vascular streak dieback (VSD) is a highly destructive and contagious disease of cocoa caused by the fungus Oncobasidium theobromae.
It is spread through contact with contaminated planting materials, and tools, and by wind-borne spores. Other factors that can contribute to the spread of this disease include poor soil fertility, excessive pruning, drought, and the overpopulation of cocoa trees. The disease can lead to reduced yields and cause tree mortality.
Signs and Symptoms of Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm
The main signs and symptoms of vascular streak dieback in cocoa farms include the presence of pale shoots, wilting of leaves, yellowing of leaves, gradual dieback of shoot tips, and thinning of canopy.
More so, the presence of brown lesions on the stem, wilted and dry leaves, and death of branches may also be observed.
Possible Treatment of Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm
Vascular Streak Dieback in cocoa farms can be treated using several methods. Chemical treatments include applying fungicides, such as thiophanate-methyl or mancozeb, copper-based fungicides, to the affected trees.
Treatment methods also include avoiding replanting on the same land for several years, treating the soil with lime and fertilizers, and planting resistant varieties of cocoa.
Pruning of infected branches and destruction of infected plants is also recommended.
Herbal treatment of Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm can be achieved by applying a combination of plant extracts, including neem and tephrosia, which have antiviral and antifungal properties that can help control the spread of the disease.
The use of other botanical extracts such as turmeric, garlic, and ginger can help in controlling the growth of the fungal spores, thus providing an effective treatment for Vascular Streak Dieback.
How to Control Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm
To control Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farms, the following practices should be implemented.
Ensure proper drainage of water to reduce the spread of the disease; pruning of dead and diseased cocoa trees; avoid replanting cocoa trees in areas where the disease is already present.
Also, applying protective fungicides such as copper oxychloride and mancozeb; using resistant varieties of cocoa; and 6practicing good sanitation and hygiene on the farm.
How to Prevent Vascular Streak Dieback in Cocoa Farm
Prevention of VSD in cocoa farm includes cultural practices such as maintaining healthy soil and plant nutrition, proper pruning, and avoiding overcrowding.
Biological control agents, such as Trichoderma, have also been used to reduce the spread of the disease.
In addition, genetic resistance has been identified in some cocoa cultivars and could disease-resistant varieties.
How to Grow Cocoa
Cocoa is a major cash crop grown in different countries around the world. Here is a complete step you can follow to begin.
Step 1. Select a Location
Cocoa trees need plenty of light and heat, so select a spot with plenty of direct sunlight. Choose a spot that has a well-drained soil, as cocoa trees do not tolerate standing water.
Step 2. Prepare the Soil
Cocoa trees require well-draining soil that is high in organic matter. Add compost or rotted manure to the soil to increase its fertility.
Step 3. Plant the Tree
Plant the cocoa tree in the prepared soil. Make sure to keep the trunk and branches from contact with the ground.
Step 4. Mulch the Tree
Use a mulch of organic matter such as leaves, grass clippings, or straw around the base of the tree. This will help the soil to retain moisture and as well protect the roots.
Step 5. Fertilize the Tree
Fertilize the tree with a fertilizer formulated for cocoa trees, usually containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Step 6. Water the Tree
Water deeply, but infrequently, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry before watering again.
Step 7. Prune the Tree
Prune the tree regularly to maintain its shape and promote healthy growth.
Step 8. Harvest the cocoa Pods
Cocoa pods are ready to harvest when they are yellow and leathery. Cut the pods from the tree and remove the beans from inside.
How to make Money from Growing Cocoa
There are different ways through which you can make money. Here are some recommendations for you.
1. Start a Cocoa Farming Business
Cocoa farming is a great way to make money from the cocoa beans. Depending on the size of your farm and the quantity of cocoa beans produced, you can make a good profit.
2. Sell Cocoa Beans on the Market
You can also make money by selling cocoa beans on the market. You can buy cocoa beans in bulk and resell them to retailers or consumers.
3. Start a Chocolate Production Business
If you have the resources and know-how, you can start a chocolate production business. You can buy the raw cocoa beans and process them into chocolate bars or other products.
4. Invest in Cocoa Futures
You can also make money through investing in cocoa futures. You can buy cocoa futures contracts and benefit from price movements in the cocoa bean market.
5. Export Cocoa Beans
If you have access to a large quantity of cocoa beans, you can export them to international markets. This can be a profitable business, depending on the demand for cocoa beans in foreign markets.
6. Open a Cocoa Bean Store
You can also open a store that sells cocoa beans. You can buy cocoa beans from local farmers and resell them to retailers or consumers.
7. Process Cocoa Beans
You can also make money by processing cocoa beans into cocoa powder, cocoa liquor, and cocoa butter. You can then sell these products to chocolate makers or other buyers.
Industries that Demand Cocoa Produce
There are a few industries that demand for cocoa produce. We have highlighted some of the prominent ones.
1. Chocolate Industry
Chocolate is the most popular product that uses cocoa produce. The chocolate industry is one of the largest industries that relies on cocoa production. Chocolate companies such as Hershey’s, Nestle, and Mars source cocoa from various parts of the world to produce chocolate.
2. Baking Industry
Cocoa is an essential ingredient for baking. It is used to make cakes, cookies, brownies, and other baked goods. Cocoa is also used to make hot cocoa, hot chocolate, and chocolate-flavored desserts.
3. Confectionery Industry
The confectionery industry uses cocoa to make candy, ice cream, and other treats. Cocoa is used to make chocolate candies such as Hershey’s Kisses and M&M’s. It is also used to make ice cream flavors such as chocolate and chocolate chip.
4. Beverage Industry
Cocoa is used to make various beverages such as hot cocoa, chocolate milk, and coffee. It is also used to make flavored syrups for coffee drinks such as mochas and lattes.
5. Cosmetics Industry
Cocoa is used in the cosmetics industry to make lotions, creams, and other beauty products. Cocoa butter is a popular ingredient in many products as it helps to moisturize and protect the skin.
Suitable Fertilizer to Grow Cocoa
A suitable fertilizer for growing cocoa should contain a balanced mixture of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It should also contain trace elements such as magnesium, sulfur, boron, and zinc. Here are some examples.
1. Potassium Sulfate
Potassium sulfate helps to promote the growth of flowers, fruits and vegetables. It also helps in increasing the production of cocoa, providing higher yields.
2. Calcium Nitrate
Calcium nitrate helps to stimulate the growth of cocoa trees, which can result in higher yields. It also helps to improve soil fertility and increases the uptake of nutrients.
3. Magnesium Sulfate
Magnesium sulfate helps to enhance the growth of cocoa trees, resulting in higher yields. It also helps to improve soil fertility and increases the uptake of nutrients.
4. Ammonium Nitrate
Ammonium nitrate helps to promote the growth and productivity of cocoa trees, resulting in higher yields. It also helps to improve soil fertility and increases the uptake of nutrients.
Urea helps to improve the growth of cocoa trees, resulting in higher yields. It also helps to improve soil fertility and increases the uptake of nutrients.
5 Pest of Cocoa
1. Cocoa Pod Borer
It is a major pest of cocoa, which feeds on the contents of the cocoa pods and reduces both the quantity and quality of cocoa beans.
2. Black Pod Disease
It is a fungal disease caused by Phytophthora palmivora which attacks the pods, causing black spots that can eventually rot and destroy the cocoa pod.
3. Cocoa Thrips
They are small, yellow-brown insects which feed on the leaves and pods of the cocoa tree, reducing the quality and yield of the cocoa beans.
4. Cocoa Moth
It is a small moth which feeds on the cocoa beans in the pods, causing damage to the beans and reducing the yield and quality of the cocoa.
5. Red Spider Mite
It is a small spider-like pest which feeds on the leaves of the cocoa tree, causing extensive damage and reducing the yield of the cocoa.
Pests of Cocoa and Their Control
Pests of cocoa include a variety of insects, fungi, mites and other organisms. The most common pests are mealybugs, scale insects, aphids, thrips, mites, and nematodes.
Mealybugs are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on the leaves and stems of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of insecticides and biological control agents such as parasitic wasps.
Scale insects are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on the leaves and stems of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of insecticides and biological control agents such as predatory mites.
Aphids are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on the leaves and stems of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of insecticides and biological control agents such as lady beetles.
Thrips are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on the leaves and stems of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of insecticides and biological control agents such as predatory thrips.
Mites are small, sap-sucking insects that feed on the leaves and stems of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of insecticides and biological control agents such as predatory mites.
Nematodes are small, parasitic worms that feed on the roots of cocoa trees. They can cause damage to the tree by reducing photosynthesis, leading to a decrease in yield. Control measures include the use of nematicides and biological control agents such as entomopathogenic nematodes.
Diseases Of Cocoa PDF
Cocoa is susceptible to a range of diseases, including fungal, bacterial, and viral infections.
Fungal diseases such as black pod, frosty pod, and witches’ broom can cause significant damage, while bacterial infections like swollen shoot and bacterial canker can also be devastating.
Viral diseases, such as cacao swollen shoot virus, can also cause severe losses. In general, diseases can be managed through good farming practices, crop rotation, and the use of resistant varieties.
Cocoa Pest and Disease Management PDF
This PDF outlines the main pests and diseases that affect cocoa production, including their biology, symptoms, management methods, and preventive measures. It also provides recommendations for the implementation of effective cocoa pest and disease management strategies.
Cacao Leaves Diseases
Cacao leaves are prone to a wide range of diseases, including brown spot, witches’ broom, frosty pod rot, black pod, and Phytophthora root rot.
These diseases are caused by fungi, bacteria, and viruses and can drastically reduce crop yields.
In order to prevent and/or treat these diseases, farmers must practice crop rotation, use copper-based fungicides, and remove infected plants.
Diseases Of Cocoa PPT
Cocoa is susceptible to many diseases, including root rot, witches’ broom, and frosty pod rot. Each of these diseases can cause significant damage to cocoa crops and reduce yield.
Root rot is a fungal disease that can lead to poor nutrition and water uptake by the infected plant, while witches’ broom is a fungal infection that causes clusters of shoots to appear on the infected plant.
Frosty pod rot is a fungal disease that causes the cocoa pods to develop a white, powdery coating. All three diseases can be prevented by proper cultural practices, such as proper fertilization and irrigation.
Pests Of Cocoa PDF
Pests of Cocoa PDF is an informational document that provides an overview of the most common pests that can cause damage to cocoa crops.
It also provides information on the symptoms of damage caused by each pest, as well as methods for controlling and preventing them.
More so, the PDF includes tips on how to identify pests, how to conduct a pest survey, and how to assess the severity of damage caused by pests.
List The Pest Of Cocoa
- Red Spider Mites
- Bark Borers
- Pod Borers
- Leaf-Cutting Ants
- Stem Borers
- Root-Knot Nematodes
- Twig Borers
- Flea Beetles
- Armored Scale Insects
- Chloropid Flies
- Coffee Leaf Miner
- Bunch Rot Fungus
- Witches’ Broom Fungus
- Black Pod Fungus
- White Root Rot Fungus
- Gummosis Fungus
- Rust Fungus
- Brown Spot Fungus
- Lethal Yellowing Disease
- Cocoa Swollen Shoot Virus
- Cocoa Pod Borer Moth
- Cocoa Mirid Bug
Cocoa farms are an important part of the world’s economy, and yet they are vulnerable to a host of diseases. In order to keep cocoa production at its maximum efficiency, it is important to be aware of the five most common diseases that affect cocoa farms, as well as how to treat them.