woensdag 24 augustus 2011

Another day, another message in the inbox.

The Daily Review

Boxed Chocolate Review

Another day, another message in the inbox. They’re all pretty much the same variation on one another. This one was different however. Instead of a tracking number for an overnight shipment, it read: “I like your website & want to send you a box but I do not ship because my creations do not travel well. The chocolates are always made by myself & only with the best ingredients. I create them without any artificial preservatives, which would extend chocolate a long time beyond their true shelf life (I think you should buy chocolates when you have the need to). This, in short, is what I do & like to do... all for the passion &... for those with Passion for Chocolate. If you ever should be in Belgium, you are very welcome to taste.”

Woa, the C-spot™ elevates cacáo all it can but this declaration startled the office.

Has chocolate now surpassed wine (negociants & brokers will move anything, anywhere, anytime... for a price) to rival a Stradivarius? The Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, probably the first European monarch to sip the sacred brew (as then chocolate was served as a beverage only), must be weeping all over his tomb in the Royal Pantheon at El Escorial upon hearing that, no, there won’t be any delivery in the afterlife after all.

Even more startling, in an industry that covets secrecy comes an invitation at the close of the letter: “you are welcome to work with me.” Wow.

But what happens if this chocolatier’s output is pitiful? How will it be possible to rip on such a beautiful soul in a review? O, the pangs of honesty. Maybe that’s precisely the nefarious intent behind all the killing-with-kindness overtures.

Mercifully, there are no such conflicts.

Geert (the ‘G’ silent, pronounced ‘heert’) Vercruysse likes to say he never works; that this being chocolate he always plays. He undersells himself. His passion for Theobroma cacao (literally ‘god-food’ in Latin), & all things chocolate all of the time, rises to the level of a calling. Therefore, call him a pre-ordained priest, iman, kohen, monk, shaman... whomever gets tapped as handler of the sacramental truths. The trust safely ensconced in his care, he whiles away hours, days & nights -- his whole life really -- ritually inviting all ye faithful that put this little town of Kortrijk, Belgium on their pilgrimage itinerary & flock to it after Lourdes & Notre Dame en route to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam -- holy sites all. There, Geert offers his daily benediction, & thus duly blessed, a smile guides the rest of the way.

Chocolate Hallelujah.

An honorary member of the God Squad.

Email, txt’g, tweets, Skype, VOIP can go only so far. The best way to experience it is in the flesh, in person, via an audience with Geert. He’s a sensualist like that.

The next best option: V.S.O.P. (Very Special One-time Parcel).

You see, in the budding community of the chocolati, miraculous apparitions appear. Geert included a postscript to his letter: “If I should have a friend who is visiting NYC, where could they drop you some chocolates, you never know?”

Where else... at the height of the summer meltdown with temperatures melting well beyond any confection’s temperment to withstand them, in walk two strangers carrying an insulated cool-pack where Dr. Maricel Presilla, the reigning queen mother of the modern chocolate scene, enshrines bars from around the globe, as well as performs her own wizardry with Latin cuisine. Playing in the background: Cannonball Adderley’s This Here. After exchanging pleasantries, the visitors calmly open the cooler to reveal a treasure trove. A pallet of edible jewels sent from Patisserie Vercruysse & hand-delivered by his relatives / trusted envoys because blood is thicker than water & chocolate has symbolized blood ever since its Mesoamerican roots. In presenting the gifts to the good Dr. Presilla & offering more salutations to the C-spot™ (thank you very much), they reiterate how “fresh chocolates don’t cope with long distance travel very well, but this is the risk we have to take”.

The very definition of personal service so precious one would think the Hope Diamond had arrived.

In a sense, it has.

Naturally, Dr. Presilla makes sure the treasure is appropriately handled & all due protocols are met in the chain of custody.

The honor gratefully accepted, there’s no way to adequately return it.

In an era when hope has turned to despair & the world superficially appears to be going to hell in a handbasket, Geert Vercruysse re-affirms that not all is lost, for big-hearted & kind-spirited people are coming back to chocolate instead.

Geert (remember, pronounced ‘heert’), as in ‘here it is’.
Geert it is... Patisserie Vercruysse on the Hudson: Liaisons from Beligium inside Maricel Presilla’s Ultramarinos destination in Hoboken, NJ, USA -- right across the Hudson River from Manhattan

Presentation   3.8 / 5
plastic portable chess box (let’s hope food-grade for cocoa butter is highly absorbent)! well-crafted & attractive pieces, clean & easy on the eyes by a moderate sheen; uniform size & shaped to look like mahjong tiles au noir; ditto color transfer tops all lined up in neat rows if technically imperfect (some uneven bottom seals); overall, so far so good
Aromas   4 / 5
redolent of a bakery (pastry butter, oven-warm bread, croissants) next door to a chocolate factory (light cocoa & sugared scents laced with marshmallows, freshly pampered baby's ass & newly tilled earth)
Textures/Melt   8.4 / 10
Shells: cares about the craft -- nice construction with (generally) proper thickness of support walls vs. softness of ganache creates good juxtapose to give the tooth something to play with & the tongue a teasing melt
Centers: soft, clean, no grease, with excellent spread on the palate (save for marzipan’s sweetened sand paper) attained perhaps by slightly higher than average cream-to-cocoa ratio
Flavor   42 / 50
Delimited by design. Primarily a series of single-origin ganches, the equivalent of a Grand Palet d’Or Tour Around the World of Premium Cacáo, with only a few containing inclusions for change of pace / taste. Solid, & in some cases -- knowing the base material – remarkable; no nasty soy, overriding additives or other abominations save for a few scorchingly-sugared ganaches that blast the senses rather than seducing them, often achieved by mixed combos of Milk-on-Dark or vice versa.

The usual pattern: a frontal sugar assault, then soft chocolate, followed on (in the case of some pure origin cacáos) by an odd / alternating old shoe / fish bone / pencil shaving / mouse tail in the upper sinus cavity that feels experimental in parts & eccentric in others – therefore sugar the great equalizer. Valiantly attempts to draw a fine line between taming / gelding such interesting sources (patterned after the classic Euro tradition) or letting them roam wild & free (perhaps unwisely given the nature of some origins & their spotty post-harvest techniques).

In the majority of instances though a rare exposition. And in every instance, incomparably fresh.
Quality   24.9 / 30
Highly-processed. Belgian sweet (sugar ‘n cream, please), French style (crêpe-thin shell / satin ganache), Euro sensibility (pleasure... all for pleasure) & global in scope. Rather than rely on bulwark Belgium lines such as Callebaut or Belcolade, Vercruysse spurns them (a rarity... a Belgium Chocolatier who never works with Belgium couverture!). Instead he champions diversity & obtains couverture the way artisanal barsmiths obtain cacáo – from many sources. He spans the globe seeking out small & unique craftsmen who align with his interest.

Like Amano’s boxed collection, he introduces the uninitiated to origin cacáo via the bombone. Like Castelain, he’s an optimician to make several barsmiths taste better than their original work.

In Geert’s own words: Truffles are always made without adding flavors to origin chocolate, to keep the origin taste of the chocolate, which is my goal & respect for the planters & honest chocolate makers. One of the nice things is creating chocolates with couverture of new companies or new batches to taste their flavors for the first time, not as a chocolate bar, but in a sublime bonbon.

Any shortcomings stem from the couvertures themselves which Geert selflessly highlights at the expense of adding flavoring(s) that might cover for them. Pretty gutsy for a chocolatier to ride out so naked like this. It demands a premium placed on sourcing if not the absolute best, then at least those with character to challenge & excite the senses.

Craft all here; attention to detail too; plus respect for the wondrous base produce -- exotic cacáos, many painstakingly fermented, sun-dried, roasted, ground & conched.

Syncopated & simple is the grail-quest here. The road can be so long & winding. Unlike Elijah for whom the journey at one point proved much too much, Geert Vercruysse is well along on it, sustained by the power of cacáo to connect people in answer to that fundamental question: "What is your business here?" (1 Kings 19).
Couverture: Adi; Åkesson; Amano; Casa Luker; El Ceibo; Madre; Original Beans; Pacari + more coming
NOTE: Because of Geert’s creativity, the names below refer to the design depicted on each respective piece. the C-spot™ has taken this liberty in homage to him.

Birth of a Child – the singular match of Åkesson’s 75% Madagascar & butcher’s-grind quality Voatsiperifery pepper except here paired with a rather tame Brazilian chocolate (there's a first... a tame bar from Brazil) or just a deeply sublimated one in a buttoned-down balsamic-like complex layered on thick & brooding thru a Dark butter-ganache; very adult & aggressive, especially how the pepper comes & stays with the chocolate finish to unpeel the senses in an otherworldly dimension; huge flavor & effect... a standout

Boxy’s - Casa Luker’s 65% frames a rapido meltaway of marzipan-cum-coconut (almost a goopy franken-hybrid of fondant / meal)... leaves some sugar burn-marks after it confects into a cake consistency & yet satisfying to the point of craving more; still, should re-proportion for better results

Daisy - very smooth / very sweet gianduia cut by almond with an MC base that renders a wafer backing

CurlycueMilk-over-Dark, satin soft & smooth; a too damn hi-sweet pitch / sugar-kill on all the softness of the milk/cream that nonetheless coerces the high notes of the mother ship (Adi couverture) toward a grape-gestalt; intriguing

Crushed Diamond - pure Pacari with a splash of Belgian cream; very straight, tannic-Dark cocoa & simple... + typical Ecuadorian chalk limning the edges that cauterizes the finish

Jane’s - belongs to the woman whose lover took her on a safari expedition guided by Geert himself... specifically, Congo’s Mavivi Nat’l Park to witness “wildlife cacáo” grown under the auspices of Philipp Kaufman’s Original Beans venture, crafted into the bar Virunga, then transformed by Geert Vercruysse for this stylish li’l passport; an all-Dark black-tie affair in the jungle calm (replete with very disquieting hints at its earthy parent cacao) that releases tannins on the high palate inflected with jujube fruit & grounded by that treacle also found in Blanxart’s nearby Congo 82% before a eucalyptus-like coolness clears the cocoa forest; this doubles as the tuck-in chocolate on the pillow for sweet dreams whence safely back in the tent, or back home where good taste travels freely

Fronds - another unadulterated origin cacáo (Pacari 60%); Milk-on-Dark ; a bit nitty gritty on the texture, otherwise well fermented for very fruitful profile incorporating cream as custard backed in what passes for pastry flour; once more however the finish flounders similarly to the Crushed Diamond

Pod Bearer - take the Fronds above from Pacari but at 80%... naturally greater stamina (very smooth, deep, long lasting ganache) & no flat finish per se, only a lilting road-kill frog in the upper sinus cavity (wow, talk about rainforest!); tremendous

Balloons - attains phenomenal altitude from a fruit-gusher for an upper register treat... yields to tonka beans & crushed cocoa nibs, especially the golden hay aspect of the herb; beautifully tailored Dark ganache trimmed in a Milk Choc casing – all sourced in Venezuela by Amano -- with lasting quality; exceptional

The Maze - from the Lubeca house of Marzipan comes this 44% grainy paste; very slight shell-yield; overly sweet (almond almost gets lost in the sugar) yet quite true to the nut (as Dark cocoa only mildly influences the proceedings) but, alas, with a tin back

Connecting the Dots - based on the “Chloé Bar” that transforms with cream those cognac-inflected tones from the El Ceibo 71% into... not a Bailey’s Irish Cream but a Geert’s Belgian Chocolate Ale... ending on a powerfully sweet cocoa-cotton candy hit; a micro-brewery at its most compact

Red Pods - Milk Chocolate shell & cream ganache impose themselves on one of Adi’s better releases – the 72% Fijian Ami-Ami-Ca -- mollifying the objectionable notes while highlighting the inviting ones (papaya into strawberry) even as the back craters into the ocean floor

Reviewed August 19, 2011

Source: http://www.c-spot.com/chocolate-census/daily-review/?pid=1513

many thanks to Mark Christian from C-spot USA

dinsdag 23 augustus 2011


Cocoa tree rehabilitation in Ecuador

Monkeys, rats, and parrots are here and in all tropical countries the
subject of much complaint, and if the plantation is remote from towns or
in the forest, their depredations can only be held in check by the constant
presence of well-armed hunter or watchman. Of the more serious enemies
with which we have to deal, pernicious insects and in particular
those that attack the wood of the tree, everything has yet to be learned.
Mr. Charles N. Banks, an accomplished entomologist, now stationed at
Maao, Occidental Negros, is making a close study of the life history of
the insect enemies of cacao, and through his researches it is hoped that
much light will be thrown upon the whole subject and that ways will be
devised to overcome and prevent the depredations of these insect pests.
The most formidable insect that has so far been encountered is a beetle,
which pierces and deposits its eggs within the bark. When the worm
hatches, it enters the wood and traverses it longitudinally until it is ready
to assume the mature or beetle state, when it comes to the surface and
makes its escape. These worms will frequently riddle an entire branch
and even enter the trunk. The apertures that the beetle makes for the
laying of its eggs are so small -more minute than the head of a pin-
that discovery and probing for the worm with a fine wire is not as fruitful
of results as has been claimed.
Of one thing, however, we are positively assured, i. e., that the epoch of
ripening of the cacao fruit is the time when its powerful fragrance serves
to attract the greatest number of these beetles and many other noxious
insects to the grove. This, too, is the time when the most constant and
abundant supply of labor is on the plantation and when vast numbers of
these insects can be caught and destroyed. The building of small fires
'at night in the groves, as commonly practiced here and in many tropical
countries, is attended with some benefits. Lately, in India, this remedy
has been subject to an improvement that gives promise of results which
will in time minimize the ravages of insect pests. It is in placing powerful
acetylene lights over broad, shallow vats of water overlaid with min eral oil or petroleum.

Some of these lamps now made under recent patents yield a light of dazzling brilliancy, and if well distributed would doubtless lure millions of insects to their death.
The cheap cost of the fuel also makes the remedy available for trial by every planter.
There is a small hemipterous insect which stings the fruit when about
two-thirds grown, and deposits its eggs within. For this class of insects
M. A. Tonduz, who has issued publications on the diseases of cacao in
Venezuela, recommends washing the fruit with salt water, and against
the attacks of beetles in general by painting the tree stem and branches
with Bordeaux mixture, or with the vassiliere insecticide, of which the
basis is a combination of whale-oil soap and petroleum suspended in lime
wash. There can be no possible virtue in the former, except as a preventive
against possible fungous diseases; of the sanitive value of the
latter we can also afford to be skeptical, as the mechanical sealing of the
borer's holes, and thereby cutting off the air supply, would only result
in driving the worm sooner to the surface. The odor of petroleum and
particularly of whale-oil soap is so repellant, however, to most insects that
its prophylactic virtues would undoubtedly be great.
The Philippine Islands appear to be so far singulax'ly exempt from the
very many cryptogamic or fungous diseases, blights, mildews, rusts, and
cankers that have played havoc with cacao-growing in many countries.
That we should enjoy continued immunity will depend greatly upon securing
seeds or young plants only from noninfested districts or from
reputable dealers, who will carefully disinfect any shipments, and to supplement
this by a close microscopical examination upon arrival and the
immediate burning of any suspected shipments.
Another general precaution that will be taken by every planter who
aims to maintain the best condition in his orchard is the gathering and
burning of all prunings or trimmings from the orchard, whether they are
diseased or not. Decaying wood of any kind is a field for special activity
for insect life and fungous growth, and the sooner it is destroyed the
On this account it is customary in some countries to remove the fruit
pods from the field. But unless diseased, or unless they are to be returned
after the harvest, they should be buried upon the land for their
manurial value.

The picture above was taken in Ghana, where fortunately, beans may sometimes be extracted from pods showing disease sypmtoms on the outside - unlike Moniliophthora diseased pods
(see below).


zaterdag 6 augustus 2011


The ripening period of cacao generally occurs at two seasons of the
year, but in these islands the most abundant crop is obtained at about the
commencement of the dry season, and the fruits continue to ripen for
two months or longer. The time of its approaching maturity is easily
recognized by the tyro by the unmistakable aroma of chocolate that pervades
the orchard at that period, and by some of the pods turning reddish
or yellow according to the variety.
The pods are attached by a very short stalk to the trunk of the tree, and
those within reach of the hand are carefully cut with shears. Those
higher up are most safely removed with an extension American tree
pruner. A West Indian hook knife with a cutting edge above and below
and mounted on a bamboo pole. If kept with the edges very sharp, does
excellently well, but should only be intrusted to the most careful workmen.
There is hardly a conceivable contingency to warrant the climbing of a
cacao tree. If it should occur, the person climbing should go barefooted.
As soon as the fruit, or so much of it as is well ripened, has been gathered,
it is thrown into heaps and should be opened within twenty-four hours.
The opening is done in a variety of ways, but the practice followed in
Surinam would be an excellent one here if experienced labor was not at
command. There, with a heavy knife or cutlass (bolo), they cut off the
base or stem end of the fruit and thereby expose the column to which the
seeds are attached, and then women and children, who free most of the
seeds, are able to draw out the entire seed mass intact. It is exceedingly
important that the seeds are not wounded, and for that reason it is inexpedient
to intrust the more expeditious method of halving the fruit with
a sharp knife to any but experienced workmen.
The process of curing that I have seen followed in these Islands is simplicity
itself. Two jars half filled with water are provided for the cleaners,
and as the seeds are detached from the pulp they are sorted and
graded on the spot. Only those of large, uniform size, well formed and
thoroughly ripe, being thrown into one ; deformed, small, and imperfectly
matured seeds going to the other.

In these jars the seeds are allowed to stand in their own juice for a day, then they are taken out, washed in fresh water, dried in the sun from two to four days, according to the weather, and the process from the Filipino standpoint is complete.
Much of the product thus obtained is singularly free from bitterness
and of such excellent quality as to be salable at unusually high prices,
and at the same time in such good demand that it is with some hesitancy
that the process of fermentation is recommended for general use.
But it is also equally certain that localities in these Islands will be
planted to cacao where all the conditions that help to turn out an unrivaled natural product are by no means assured.
For such places, where the rank-growing, more coarse-flavored, and bitter-fruited Forastero may produce exceptionally good crops, it will become incumbent on the planter to adopt some of the many methods of fermentation, whereby he can correct the crudeness of the untreated bean and receive a remunerative price for the "processed” or ameliorated product.
Undoubtedly the Strickland method, or some modification of it, is
the best, and is now in general use on all considerable estates where the
harvest is 200 piculs or upward per annum, and its use probably assures
a more uniform product than any of the ruder processes in common use
by small proprietors.
But it must not be forgotten that the present planters in the Philippines
are all small proprietors, and that until such time as the maturing
of large plantations calls for the more elaborate apprratus of the Strickland pattern, some practice whereby the inferior crude bean may be economically and quickly converted into a marketable product can not be
avoided. As simple and efficacious as any is that largely pursued in some
parts of Venezuela, where is produced the famous Caracas cacao.
The beans and pulp are thrown into wooden vats that are pierced with
holes sufficient to permit of the escape of the juice, for which twenty-four hours suffices. The vat is then exposed to the sun for five or six hours, and the beans, while still hot, are taken out, thrown into large heaps,. And covered with blankets.

The next day they are returned to the box, subjected to a strong sun
heat and again returned to the heap. This operation is repeated for sevral
days, until the beans, by their bright chocolate color and suppleness,
indicate that they are cured. If, during the period of fermentation, rain
is threatened or occurs, the beans are shoveled, still hot, into bags and retained there until they can once more be exposed to the sun. Before the
final bagging they are carefully hand rubbed in order to remove the adherent gums and fibrous matters that did not pass off in the primary

In Ceylon, immediately after the beans have been fermented they are
washed, and the universally high prices obtained by the Ceylon planters
make it desirable to reproduce here a brief resume of their method. The
fermentation is carried on under sheds, and the beans are heaped up in
beds of 60 cm. to 1 meter in thickness apon a platform of parallel joists
arranged to permit of the escape of the juices. This platform is elevated
from the ground and the whole heap is covered with sacks or matting.
The fermentation takes from five to seven days, according to the heat of the atmosphere and the size of the heap, and whenever the temperature
rises above 40° the mass is carefully turned over with wooden shovels.
Immediately after the fermentation is completed the Ceylon planter
passes the mass through repeated washings, and nothing remains but to
dry the seed. This in Ceylon is very extensively done, in dryers of different kinds, some patterned after the American fruit dryer, some in
slowly rotating cylinders through the axis of which a powerful blast of
hot air is driven.
The process of washing unquestionably diminishes somewhat the
weight of the cured bean; for that reason the practice is not generally
followed in other countries, but in the case of the Ceylon product it is;
one of the contributing factors to the high prices obtained.


woensdag 3 augustus 2011


Planters are united in the opinion that pruning, cutting, or in any way
lacerating the roots is injurious to the cacao, and in deference to this
opinion all cultivation close to the tree should be done with a harrowtooth
cultivator, or shallow scarifier. All intermediate cultivation should
be deep and thorough, whenever the mechanical condition of the soil will
permit it. A plant stunted in youth will never make a prolific tree; early
and continuous grawth can only be secured by deep and thorough cultivation.
Of even more consideration than an occasional root cutting is any injury,
however small, to the tree stem, and on this account every precaution
should be taken to protect the trees from accidental injury when
plowing or cultivating. The whiffletree of the plow or cultivator used
should be carefully fendered with rubber or a soft woolen packing that
will effectually guard against the carelessness of workmen. Wounds in
the bark or stem offer an inviting field for the entry of insects or the
spores of fungi, and are, furthermore, apt to be overlooked until the injury becomes deep seated and sometimes beyond repair.
With the gradual extension of root development, cultivation will be reduced
to a narrow strip between the rows once occupied by the plantain
or the abaca, but, to the very last, the maintenance of the proper soil conditions should be observed by at least one good annual plowing and by as
many superficial cultivations as the growth of the trees and the mechanical
state of the land will admit.

When left to its own resources the cacao will fruit for an almost indefinite time. When well and strenuously grown it will bear much more
abundant fruit from its fifth to its twenty-fifth year, and by a simple
process of renewal can be made productive for a much longer time.
A necessary factor to this result is an annual pruning upon strictly
scientific lines. The underlying principle involved is, primarily, the fact
that the cacao bears its crop directly upon the main branches and trunk,
and not upon spurs or twigs; secondly, that wood under three years is
rarely fruitful, and that only upon stems or branches of five years or upward does the maximum fruitfulness occur ; that the seat of inflorescence
is directly over the axil of a fallen leaf, from whence the flowers are born at irregular times throughout the year.
With this necessary, fundamental information as a basis of operations,
the rational system of pruning that suggests itself is the maintenance of
as large an extension at all times of straight, well-grown mature wood and
the perfecting of that by the early and frequent removal of all limbs or
branches that the form of the tree does not admit of carrying without
It is desirable that this extension of the branch system should be lateral
rather than vertical, for the greater facility with which fruit may be
plucked and possible insect enemies fought: and on this account the
leading growths should be stopped when a convenient height has been

When well grown and without accident to its leader, the cacao will
naturally branch at from 1 to 1.4 meters from the ground. These primary
branches are mostly three to five in number, and all in excess of
three should be removed as soon as selection can be made of three strongest
that are as nearly equidistant from each other as may be. When these
branches are from 80 cm. to 1 meter long, and preferably the shorter distance, they are to be stopped by pinching the extremities. This will cause them and the main stem as well to "break", i. e., to branch in many places.
At this point the vigilance and judgment of the planter are called into
greater play. These secondary branches are, in turn, all to be reduced as
were the primary ones, and their selection can not be made in a symmetrical
whorl, for the habit of the tree does not admit of it, and selection of
the three should be made with reference to their future extension, that the
interior of the tree should Tiot be overcrowded and that such outer
branches be retained as shall fairly maintain the equilibrium of the crown.
This will complete the third year and the formative stage of the plant.
Subsequent prunings will be conducted on the same liQes, with the modification
that when the secondary branches are again cut back, the room
in the head of the tree will rarely admit of more than one, at most two,
tertiary branches being allowed to remain. When these are grown to an
extent that brings the total height of the tree to 3 or 4 meters, they should be cut back annually, at the close of the dry season. Such minor operations as the removal of thin, wiry, or hide-bound growths and all suckers suggest themselves to ever}^ horticulturist, whether he be experienced in cacao growing or not. When a tree is exhausted by overbearing, or has originally been so ill formed that it is not productive, a strong sucker or "gourmand' springing from near the ground may be encouraged to grow.

By distributing the pruning over two or three periods, in one year the old
tree can be entirely removed and its place substituted by the "gourmand.''
During the third year flowers will be abundant and some fruit will set,
but it is advisable to remove it while small and permit all of the energy
of the plant to be expended in wood making.
From what we know of its flowering habit, it is obvious that every operation connected with the handling or pruning of a cacao, should be conducted with extreme care ; to see that the bark is never injured about the old leaf scars, for to just the extent it is so injured is the fruit-bearing area curtailed. Further, no pruning cut should ever be inflicted, except with the sharpest of knives and saws, and the use of shears, that always bruise to some extent, is to be avoided. All the rules that are laid down for the guidance of the pruning of most orchard trees in regard to clean cuts, sloping cuts, and the covering of large wounds with tar or resin apply with fourfold force to the cacao.
Its wood is remarkably spongy and an easy prey to the enemies ever lying in wait to attack it, and the surest remedies for disease are preventive ones, and by the maintenance of the bark of the tree at all times in the sound condition, we are assured that it is best qualified to resist invasion. Of the great number of wormriddled trees to be seen in the Archipelago, it is easy in every case to tracé the cause to the neglect and brutal treatment which left them in a condition to invite the attacks of disease of every kind.



All the varieties of cacao in general cultivation may be referred to three
general types, the Criollo, Forastero, and Calabacillo ; and of these, those that I have met in cultivation in the Archipelago are the first and second only.
The Criollo is incomparably the finest variety in general use, and
may perhaps be most readily distinguished by the inexperienced through
the ripe but unfermented seed or almond, as it is often called.
This on breaking, is found to be whitish or yellowish-white, while the seeds of those in which the Forastero or Calabacillo blood predominates are reddish or in the ease of Forastero, almost violet in color. For flavor freedom from bitterness, facility in curing, and high commercial value, the
Criollo is everywhere conceded to be facile princeps.
On the other hand, in point of yield, vigor, freedom from disease and
compatibility to environment it is not to be compared with the others.
Nevertheless, where such perfect conditions exist as are found in parts of
Mindanao, I do not hesitate to urge the planting of Criollo.
Elsewhere or wherever the plantation is tentative or the conditions not very well known to the planter, the Forastero is to be recommended.
The former is commercially known as 'Caracas' and 'old red Ceylon,' and may be obtained from Ceylon dealers ; and the latter, the Forastero, or forms of it which have originated in the island, can be procured from Java.
It seems not unlikely that the true Forastero may have been brought to
these Islands from Acapulco, Mexico, two hundred and thirty-two years
ago,1 as it was at that time the dominant kind grown in southeastern
Mexico, and, if so, the place where the pure type would most likely be
found in these Islands would be in the Camarinep, Southern Luzon.
Aside from the seed characters already given, Forastero is recognized by
its larger, thicker, more abundant, and rather more abruptly pointed
fruit than Criollo, and its coarse leaves which are from 22 to 50 cm. long
by 7 to 13 cm. wide, dimensions nearly double those reached by the Criollo
or Calabacillo varieties.

1 According to ''Historiade Fllipinas," by P. Fr. Gaspar de S. Augustin, cacao plants were first brought here in the year 1670 by a pilot named Pedro Brabo, of Laguna Province, who gave them to a priest of the Camarines named Bartoleme Brabo.

Planting may be done "at stake" or from the nursery. For the unskilled
or inexperienced planter, who has means at hand to defray the
greater cost, planting "at stake" is perhaps to be recommended. This is
no more than the dropping and lightly covering, during the rainy season,
of three or four seeds at the stake where the plant is to stand, protecting
the spot with a bit of banana leaf, left till the seeds have sprouted, and
subsequently pulling out all but the one strongest and thriftiest plant.
The contingencies to be met by this system are many. The enemies of
the cacao seed are legion. Drought, birds, worms, ants, beetles, mice, and
rats will all contribute their quota to prevent a good "stand" and entail
the necessitly of repeated plantings. Success by planting "at stake" is so
doubtful that it is rarely followed by experienced planters.

A farmer shows two empty cocoa shells eaten by squirrels in Nagari Sintuak, Sintoga, Padangpariaman, West Sumatra, on Tuesday. Squirrels and fungus are enemies for cocoa farmers who have seen a decline in their crops recently.

The consequent alternative lies in rearing seedlings in seed beds that
are under immediate control, and when the plants are of sufficient size,
in transplanting them to their proper siles in the orchard. In view of the remarkable short-lived vitality of the cacao seed, it is in every way advisable that the untrained grower procure his plants from professional nurserymen, or, if this resource is lacking, that he import the young plants in Wardian cases from some of the many firms abroad who make a specialty of preparing them for foreign markets.
Both of these expedients failing, then it is advised that the seeds be
sown one by one in small pots, or, if these are not procurable, in small
bamboo tubes, and, for the sake of uniform moisture, plunge them to
their rims in any free, light soil in a well-shaded easily protected spot
where they may be carefully watered. In three to six months (according
to growth) the tube with its included plant may be planted in the open
field, when the former will speedily decompose and the growth of the
cacao proceed without check or injury.
At best, all of the above suggested methods are but crude expedients to
replace the more workmanlike, expeditious, and satisfactory process of
planting the conventional nursery grown stock. There is nothing more
difiicult in the rearing of cacao seedlings than in growing any other evergreen fruit tree. Briefly stated, it is only the finding of a well-prepared, well-shaded seed bed and sowing the seeds in rows or drills, and, when the seedlings are of proper size, in lifting and transferring them to the plantation.
But in actual practice there are many details calling for the exercise
of trained judgment from the preparation of the seed bed down to the
final process of 'hardening off," concerning which the reader is referred
to the many available text-books on general nursery management.
It may be said for the benefit of those unable to adopt more scientific
methods : Let the seed bed be selected in a well-shaded spot, and, if possible, upon a rather stiff, plastic, but well-drained soil. After this is well broken up and made smooth, broadcast over all 3 or 4 inches of welldecomposed leaf mold mixed with sand, and in this sow the seed in furrows about 1 inch deep. This sowing should be made during the dry
season, not only to avoid the beating and washing of violent storms but to
have the nursery plants of proper size for planting at the opening of the
rainy season. The seed bed should be accessible to water, in order that it
may be conveniently watered by frequent sprinklings throughout the dry season.
The rich top dressing will stimulate the early growth of the seedling,
and when its roots enter the heavier soil below it will encourage a stocky
growth. Four or five months later the roots will be so well established
in the stiffer soil that if lifted carefully each plant may be secured with a ball of earth about its roots, placed in a tray or basket, and in this way carried intact to the field. Plants thus reared give to the inexperienced an assurance of success not always obtained by the trained or veteran planter of bare rooted subjects.