It is always desirable to select a site that is approximately level or with
only enough fall to assure easy drainage. Such sites may be planted symmetrically and are susceptible to the easiest and most economical application of the many operations connected vvith a plantation.
Provided the region is well forested and therefore protected from sea
breezes, the plantation may be carried very near to the coast, provided the
elevation is sufficient- to assure the grove immunity from incursions of
tide water, which, however much diluted, will speedily cause the death of
Excavations should be made during the dry season to determine that
water does not stand within IJ meters of the surface, a more essential
condition, however, when planting is made "at stake^' than when nursery
reared trees are planted.
Hillsides, when "not too precipitous, frequently offer admirable shelter
and desirable soils, but their use entails n rather more complicated system
of drainage, to carry away storm water without land washing, and for the
ready conversion of the same into irrigating ditches during the dry season.
Further, every operation involved must be performed by hand labor, and
in the selection of such a site the planter must be largely influenced by the quantity and cost of available labor.
The unexceptionable shelter, the humidity that prevails, and the inexhaustible supply of humus that is generally found in deep forest ravines frequently lead to their planting to cacao where the slope is even as great as 45°. Such plantations, if done upoji a considerable commercial scale, involve engineering problems and the careful terracing of each tree, and, except for a dearth of more suitable locations, is a practice that has little to commend it to the practical grower.
Other things being equal, preference should be given to a not too tenacious, clayey loam. Selection, in fact, may be quite successfully made
through the process of exclusion, and by eliminating all soils of a very
light and sandy nature, or clays so tenacious that the surface bakes and
cracks while still too wet within 3 or
4 inches of the surface to operate
with farm tools. These excluded, still leave a very wide range of silt,
clay, and loam soils, most of which are suitable to cacao culture.
Where properly protected from the wind a rocky soil, otherwise good,
is not objectionable; in fact, such lands have the advantage of promoting
|Picture: Adi Chocolate Fiji|
When the plantation is made upon forest lands, it is necessary to cut
and burn all underbrush, together with all timber trees other than those
designed for shade. If such shade trees are left (and the advisability of
leaving them will be discussed in the proper place), only those of the
pulse or bean family are to be recommended. It should also be remembered
that, owing in part to the close planting of cacao and in part to
the fragility of its wood and its great susceptibility to damage resulting
from wounds, subsequent removal of large shade trees from the plantation
is attended with difficulty and expense, and the planter should leave
few shade trees to the hectare. Clearing the land should be done during
the dry season, and refuse burned in situ, thereby conserving to the soil
the potash salts so essential to the continued well-being of cacao.
The land should be deeply plowed, and, if possible, subsoiled as well,
and then, pending the time of planting the orchard, it may be laid down
to corn, cotton, beans, or some forage plant. Preference should be given
to ^Tioed crops," as it is essential to keep the surface in open tilth, as well as to destroy all weeds.
The common practice in most cacao-growing countries is to simply dig
deep holes where the trees are to stand, and to give a light working to the
rest of the surface just sufficient to produce the intermediate crops. This
custom is permissible only on slopes too steep for the successful operation
of a side hill plow, or where from lack of draft animals all cultivation
has to be done by hand.
Cacao roots deeply, and with relatively few superficial feeders, and the
deeper the soil is worked the better.
The number and size of the drains will depend upon the amount of
rainfall, the contour of the land, and the natural absorbent character of
the soil. In no case should the ditches be less than
1 meter wide and 60
cm. deep, and if loose stones are at hand the sloping sides may be laid
with them, which will materially protect them from washing by torrential
These main drains should all be completed prior to planting. Connecting
laterals may be opened subsequently, as the necessities of further
drainage or future irrigation may demand ; shallow furrows will generally
answer for these laterals, and as their obliteration will practically follow
every time cultivation is given, their construction may be of the cheapest
and most temporary nature. Owing to the necessity of main drainage
canals and the needful interplanting of shade plants between the rows of
cacao, nothing is gained by laying oif the land for planting in what is
called "two ways," and all subsequent working of the orchard will consequently
be in one direction.
Source: S.LYON,IN CHARGE OF SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION. OF PUBLIC PRINTING1902.WILLIAM