CACAO CULTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES. part 4
SELECTION OP VARIETIES.
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.
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.
Source: S.LYON,IN CHARGE OF SEED AND PLANT INTRODUCTION. OF PUBLIC PRINTING 1902.WILLIAM S. LYON