Project properties

Title Understanding how pruning affects flowering and fruiting intensity and pattern in cocoa trees ( Theobroma cacao L. ).
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 33-36
Supervisor(s) A (Ambra) Tosto MSc
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema
Contact info Ambra.tosto@wur.nl
Begin date 2019/09/01
End date
Description Cacao is the most important export crop in west African countries such as Ivory Coast and Ghana and an essential source of income for millions of small older farmers. Realized yield however falls way below the potential value calculated for the region. Better management practices are required to improve yield.
Among other practices pruning, the selected removal of foliar and branch biomass, is essential to ensure to efficacy of fertilizer and pesticide applications and it balances the reproductive and vegetative production in order to maximize the efficacy of the tree canopy. However it impacts the physiology and the resource allocation pattern of the plant, causing in the short term a reduction in yield. To design effective pruning practices that would minimize this yield reduction an understanding of pruning effect on cacao physiology and resource allocation is needed but still lacking.
Theobroma cacao is a cauliflorous species with flower appearing both on the main stem and in the canopy and a very low fruit to flower ratio. The resource status of the plant is known to influence both the flowering intensity and the fruit abortion that occurs during the first phase of fruit development, both important determinant of final yield. Since pruning intervention deeply affect the resource status and allocation in the plant we aspect that flowering and fruit abortion will be affected as well.
This project aims to understand and quantify those changes in order to obtain precious insight in resource dynamic in cacao plants under different pruning regimes.
Type of work: The project Comprise a field work of the duration of 2/3 months in the research station of CNRA in Divo, Ivory coast. The field work consist in repeated data collection within a newly set up experiment.
Learning outcome: Cocoa growth and production, statistical tools, field experimental skills

Agroforestry/ Ecophysiology/Africa/Tropical zone
Used skills We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills. Some knowledge of French is advisable since in the research stations very few people speak English.
Requirements FEM-30306 Forest Ecology and Forest Management; REG-31806 Ecological Methods I