How to Grow the Cocoa Plant

Written by sarah coennen
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Cocoa trees produce the fruit that is responsible for making chocolate. They are known to grow naturally within 15 degrees of the equator all around the world. Growing the cocoa plant is very difficult because they are so picky about the care that they need and will not survive in all conditions, but a healthy cocoa tree can produce fruit for 75 to 100 years. The tree needs a well-draining and slightly acidic soil, at least 80 inches of rainfall or water a year and it needs extremely controlled sunlight, especially with young trees.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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  1. 1

    Plant the tree where there are several other trees that can provide shade with some filtered sunlight. With young trees, the first year needs to be relatively dark for the tree. Most farmers install a sort of umbrella to shield the tree from sunlight during the first year. After the first year, farmers rely on other trees that grow around the cocoa tree to provide a minimal amount of sunlight.

  2. 2

    Check the pH of the soil. Cocoa trees can survive in 5.0 to 7.5, but if the soil is any more acidic or alkaline, the tree will die. The soil should contain large particles that will enable the tree to grow its roots where it likes. The soil should not be impermeable for at least 5 meters into the ground. Churn soil while planting the tree. Fertiliser should be added at least twice a year a meter away from the tree. It is imperative that the fertiliser doesn't touch the tree because it will burn the tree and damage or even kill the tree.

  3. 3

    Keep the tree in a climate that stays above 18.3 degrees Celsius. Colder weather will kill the tree. This tree grows naturally within 15 degrees of the equator, so conditions must be hot, humid and wet.

  4. 4

    Water frequently to encourage growth. Cocoa trees need an average of 80 inches of rainfall a year to thrive.

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