There are few cultivated crops that make less drain upon soil fertility
than cacao, and few drafts upon the land are so easily and inexpensively
returned. From an examination made of detailed analyses by many authors
and covering many regions, it may be broadly stated that an average
crop of cacao in the most-favored districts is about 9 piculs per hectare,
and that of the three all-important elements of nitrogen, phosphoric acid,
and potash, a total of slightly more than
4.2 kilograms is removed in each
picul of cured seeds harvested. These 37 kilos of plant food that are annually
taken from each hectare may be roughly subdivided as follows:
18 kilos of nitrogen,
10 kilos of potash,
9 kilos of phosphoric acid.
On this basis, after the plantation is in full bearing, we would have to
make good with standard fertilizers each year for each hectare about '220
kilos of nitrate of soda, or, if the plantation was shaded with leguminous
trees, only one-half that amount, or 110 kilos. Of potash salts, say the
sulphate, only one-half that amount, or 55 kilos, if the plantation was unshaded.
If, however, it was shaded, as the leguminous trees are all heavy
feeders of potash, we would have to double the amount and use 110 kilos.
In any case, as fixed nitrogen always represents a cost quite double that
of potash, from an economical standpoint the planter is still the gainer
who supplies potash to the shade trees. There still remains phosphoric
acid, which, in the form of the best superphosphate of lime, would require
55 kilos for unshaded orchards, and about 70 if dap-dap, Pionciana,
or any leguminous tree was grown in the orchard. These three ingredients
may be thoroughly incoriwrated and used as a top dressing and
lightly harrowed in about each tree.
If the commercial nitrates can not be readily obtained, then recourse
must be had to the sparing use of farm manures. Until the bearing age
these may be used freely, but after that with caution and discrimination.
Although I have seen trees here that have been bearing continuously for
twenty-two years, I have been unable to find so much as one that to the
knowledge of the oldest resident has ever been fertilized in any way, yet,
notwithstanding our lack of knowledge of local conditions, it seems perfectly safe to predicate that liberal manuring with stable manure or
highly ammoniated fertilizers would insure a rank, succulent growththat is always prejudicial to the best and heaviest fruit production.
In this I am opposed to Professor Hart,who seems to think that stable manures are those only that may be used with a free hand.
We have many safe ways of applying nitrogen through the medium of
various catch crops of pulse or beans, with the certainty that we can never
overload the soil with more than the adjacent tree roots can take up and
thoroughly assimilate. When the time comes that the orchard so shades
the ground that crops can no longer be grown between the rows, then, in
preference to stable manures I would recommend cotton-seed cake or
"poonac",the latter being always obtainable in this Archipelago.
While the most desirable form in which potash can be applied is in the
form of the sulphate, excellent results have been had with the use of
Kainit or Stassfurth salts, and as a still more available substitute, wood
ashes is suggested. When forest lands are near, the underbrush may be
cut and burned in a clearing or wherever it may be done without detriment
to the standing timber, and the ashes scattered in the orchard before
they have been leached by rains. The remaining essential of phosphoric
acid in the form of superphosphates will for some years to come necessarily
be the subject of direct importation. In the cheap form of phosphate
slag it is reported to have been used with great success in both Grenada
and British Guiana, and would be well worthy of trial here.
Lands very rich in humus, as some of our forest valleys are, undoubtedly
carry ample nitrogenous elements of fertility to maintain the trees
at a high standard of growth for many years, but provision is indispensable
for a regular supply of potash and phosphoric acid as soon as the
trees come into heavy bearing. It is to them and not to the nitrogen that
we look for the formation of strong, stocky, well-ripened wood capable
of fruit bearing and for fruit that shall be sound, highly flavored, and
The bearing life of such a tree will surely be healthfully prolonged for
many years beyond one constantly driven with highly stimulating foods,
and in the end amply repay the grower for the vigilance, toil, and original
expenditure of money necessary to maintaining a well-grown and wellappointed cacao plantation.
New Varieties.—Cacao is exclusively grown from seed, and it is only by
careful selection of the most valuable trees that the planter can hope to
make the most profitable renewals or additions to his plantations. It is
by this means that many excellent sorts are now in cultivation in different
regions that have continued to vary from the three original, common
forms of Theohroma cacao, until now it is a matter of some difiiculty to
Residence.—The conditions for living in the Philippines offer peculiar,
it may be said unexampled, advantages to the planter of cacao. The climate
as a whole is remarkably salubrious, and sites are to be found nearly
everywhere for the estate buildings, sufficiently elevated to obviate the
necessity of living near stagnant waters.
Malarial fevers are relatively few, predacious animals unknown, and
insects and reptiles prejudicial to human life or health extraordinarily
few in number. In contrast to this we need only call attention to the entire Caribbean coast of South America, where the climate and soil conditions are such that the cacao comes to a superlative degree of perfection, and yet the limits of its further extension have probably been reached by the insuperable barrier of a climate so insalubrious that the Caucasian's life is one endless conflict with disease, and when not engaged in active combat with some form of malarial poisoning his energies are concentrated upon battle with the various insect or animal pests that make life a burden in such regions.
Nonresidence upon a cacao plantation is an equivalent term for ultimate
failure. Every operation demands the exercise of the obervant eye
and the directing hand of a master, but there is no field of horticultural
effort that offers more assured reward, or that will more richly repay
close study and the application of methods wrought out as the sequence
of those studies.
Source: S.LYON,IN CHARGE OF SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION. OF PUBLIC PRINTING 1902.WILLIAM S. LYON