Start Date: Apr 21, 2011
End Date: Feb 09, 2014
The goal of this project is to identify cacao genotypes with superior ability for establishment under prevailing environmental stresses, and to develop sustainable management systems to improve the productivity and sustainability of cacao cultivation. Leguminous cover crops in early cacao establishment can protect soil from degradation by erosion and prevent weed infestation; therefore the influences of shade, soil acidity and micronutrients on growth and development of cover crops will be determined. Influences of cacao and cover crop management practices on changes of soil quality parameters (physical, chemical, biological) and nutrient components essential for maximum cacao production will be determined. Work will be conducted in controlled environmental chambers, greenhouses and field plots. We have developed collaboration with government and non-governmental research institutes, and universities in Peru, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Ecuador to establish large scale field trials. Cacao genotypes with superior ability for establishment under abiotic stresses will be identified and incorporated in cacao improvement programs. Improved management systems will be developed, based on the results of this research, to enhance cacao yield potentials and bean quality and further improve soil fertility and halt the soil degradation.