Today we look at a medium-sized Ecuadorian cocoa plantation that focuses on the premium Arriba variety.
As can be seen, the plantation does not have to be just a flat, unfathomable field, but it can be a rugged, hilly, overgrown with vegetation that provides mainly shade. The cacao tree grows naturally in the shade of the surrounding trees, so it is a mistake for the plantation to be completely cleaned of other plants and trees.
To be precise, we are talking about a plant called Theobroma cacao.
Every plantation has to think about new generations of trees, so good care of seedlings is a must. It will take about 4 years for the trees to bear their first fruits. Before they can take root, they grow nicely in kindergarten under human supervision.
Cocoa can be grown directly from seed or faster by cuttings. Seed seedlings are used especially when the farmer wants to plant a specific special variety, which he or she obtains from a seed bank.
Of course, trees are not planted uncontrollably and randomly, but systematically so that it is always known which variant it is and when it was planted.
As I mentioned, this plantation is focused on the Arriba variety. This can also be seen on the typically yellow fruits of the cacao tree. Although the color of the pod as such does not indicate quality, this golden color is typical for Arriba.
The cacao tree is special in that it bears fruit all year round and the harvest is thus continuous. The workers simply walk around the plantation and reap the ripe fruit. And so all year round.
And one more thing is particular about the cacao tree – the fruits grow straight from the trunk of the tree.
Cocoa beans are already drying here. Concrete is used as a base for drying, some plantations also use different meshes, so drying is faster, but as with everything about quality cocoa – there is no hurry.
We skipped one stage here, namely fermentation. We are exploring this in another article.