CACAO CULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES. part 1
Asia became the 1st recipient of cacáo outside its American homelands. Accounts vary but starting in the latter half of the 17th century, a Spanish galleon transported pure Mesoamerican Criollo across the Pacific to the Philippines. Many place the date at 1663; others 1666. The oldest documented record, however, is 1670: a single plant leaving from the port of Acapulco, Mexico. Once safely harbored in The Philippines, cacáo began its global journey, moving farther westward & onward.
|Chocolate Sourced from the Philippines
Cacao in cultivation exists nearly everywhere in the Archipelago. I
have observed it in several provinces of Luzon, in Mindanao, Jolo, Basilan,
Panay, and Negros, and have well-verified assurances of its presence
in Cebu, Bohol, and Masbate, and it is altogether reasonable to predicate
its existence upon all the larger islands anywhere under an elevation of
1,000 or possibly
1,200 meters. Nevertheless, in many localities the condition
of the plants is such as not to justify the general extension of cacao
cultivation into all regions. The presence of cacao in a given locality is
an interesting fact, furnishing a useful guide for investigation and agricultural
experimentation, but, as the purpose of this paper is to deal with
cacao growing from a commercial standpoint, it is well to state that
wherever reference is made t6 the growth, requirements, habits, or cultural
treatment of the plant the commercial aspect is alone considered.
As an illustration, attention is called to the statement made elsewhere,
that "cacao exacts a minimum temperature of 18°"; although, as is perfectly
well known to the writer, its fruit has sometimes matured where
the recorded temperatures have fallen as low as 10°. There is much to be
learned here by experimentation, for as yet the cultivation is primitive in
the extreme, pruning of any kind rudimentary or negative, and "treatment"
of the nut altogether unknown.
Elsewhere in cacao-producing countries its cultivation has long passed
the experimental stage, and the practices that govern the management of
a well-ordered cacao plantation are as clearly defined as those of an orange grove in Florida or a vineyard in California.
In widely scattered localities the close observer will find many young
trees that in vigor, color, and general health leave nothing to be desired,
but before making final selection for a plantation he should inspect trees
of larger growth for evidences of "die back" of the branches. If "die
back" is present, superficial examinatio]i will generally determine if it is caused by neglect or by the attacks of insects. If not caused by neglect or insect attacks, he may assume that some primary essential to the continued and successful cultivation of the tree is wanting and that the location is unsuited to profitable plantations.
With due regard to these preliminary precautions and a close oversight
of every subsequent operation, there is no reason why the growing of
cacao may not ultimately become one of the most profitable horticultural
enterprises that can engage the attention of planters in this Archipelago.
|Choco-late de Batirol
It is customary, when writing of any crop culture, to give precedence
to site and soil, but in the case of cacao these considerations are of secondary importance, and while none of the minor operations of planting, pruning, cultivation, and fertilizing may be overlooked, they are all outweighed by the single essential climate.
In general, a state of atmospheric saturation keeps pace with heavy
rainfall, and for that reason we may successfully look for the highest relative
humidity upon the eastern shores of the Archipelago, where the rainfall
is more uniformly distributed over the whole year, than upon the west.
There are places where the conditions are so peculiar as to challenge
especial inquiry. We find on the peninsula of Zamboanga a recorded annual
mean rainfall of only
888 mm., and yet cacao (unirrigated) exhibits
exceptional thrift and vigor. It is true that this rain is so evenly distributed throughout the year that every drop becomes available, yet the Total rainfall is insufficient to account for the very evident and abundant atmospheric humidity indicated by the prosperous conditions of the cacao plantations.
The explanation of thise phenomenon, as made to me by the Rev.
Father Algue, of the Observatory of Manila, is to the effect that strong
equatorial ocean currents constantly prevail against southern Mindanao,
and that their influence extend north nearly to the tenth degree of latitude.
These currents, carrying their n.cisture-laden atmosphere, would
naturally affect the whole of this narrow neck of land and influence as
well some of the western coast of Mindanao, and probably place it upon
the same favored hygrometric plane as the eastern coast, where the rainfall
in some localities amounts to
4 meters a year.
2,000 mm. of mean annual rainfall equably distributed is ample
to achieve complete success, it seems almost impossible to injure cacao by
excessive piecipitation. It has been known to successfully tide over inundation of the whole stem up to the first branches for a period covering
nearly a month.
Irrigation must be resorted to in cases of deficient or unevenly distributed rainfall, and irrigation is always advantageous whenever there is suspension of rain for a period of more than fifteen days.
Concerning temperatures the best is that with an annual mean of 26°
to 28°, with 20° as the mean minimum where any measure of success may
be expected. A mean temperature of over 30° is prejudicial to cacao
The last but not least important of the atmospheric phenomena for our
consideration are the winds. Cacao loves to "steam and swelter in its own
atmosphere" and high winds are inimical, and even refreshing breezes are
incompatible, with the greatest success. As there are but few large areas \
in these Islands that are exempt from one or other of our prevailing "
winds, the remedies that suggest themselves are : The selection of small
sheltered valleys where the prevailing winds are directly cut off by intervening hills or mountains; the plantation of only small groves in the
open, and their frequent intersection by the plantation of rapid growing
trees; and, best of all, plantings made in forest clearings, where the remaining forested lands will furnish the needed protection.
MANILA:CHARGE OF SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION.
BUREAUOF PUBLIC PRINTING1902.