Above-average rains last week in most of Ivory Coast’s cocoa-growing regions augur a larger, better-quality October-to-March main crop compared with last year, farmers said on Monday.

The rainy season in Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, runs from April to mid-November.

Most farmers said they expect the harvest, which has already begun, to increase gradually from mid-September and be in full swing from October.

In the centre-western region of Daloa and in the central regions of Bongouanou and Yamoussoukro, farmers said they were optimistic as cherelles continued to proliferate on trees thanks to above-average rainfall and sun.

“The main crop will be long and of good quality, because the trees have received enough water,” said Benjamin Allangba, who farms near Daloa, where 41.6 millimetres (mm) fell last week, 12.4 mm above the five-year average.

In the western region of Soubre and in Agboville in the south where rains were also plentiful, farmers said good weather meant the first beans of the main crop were of good quality and harvesting would be strong from October.

“Many pods have ripened,” said Boniface Ballou, who farms near Soubre, where 31.9 mm fell last week, 16 mm above the average.

Rains were below average in the southern region of Divo but farmers said they were optimistic there as well.

In the eastern region of Abengourou, known for the good quality of its beans, farmers said the crop was developing well, with the first beans being smuggled across the border to Ghana to sell for 800 CFA francs per kg, 50 CFA francs above the local farmgate price.

However, in the western region of Man where 82.3 mm fell last week, 43.8 mm above the average, farmers said they feared a third consecutive week of heavy rain could damage the crop.

Weekly average temperatures ranged from 24.7 to 26.9 degrees Celsius.