Project properties

Title Quantifying the effect of pruning on cocoa (Theobroma cacao) architecture in Ivory Coast
Group Forest Ecology and Forest Management Group
Project type thesis
Credits 33-36
Supervisor(s) A (Ambra) Tosto MSc; Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema; Dr. J.B. (Jochem) Evers
Examiner(s) Prof. Dr. P.A. (Pieter) Zuidema
Contact info;;
Begin date 2018/09/01
End date
Description Cocoa (or cacao) is the most important export crop in west African countries: Ivory Coast and Ghana produce 70% of the world production, mostly by smallholder farmers.
Realized yield however falls way below the potential value calculated for the region. Pruning is suggested to be an effective measure to increase yield. It creates a more open canopy with greater penetration of light to lower levels in the cacao crowns. Little is known though about how cocoa responds to pruning and how this changes the 3D architecture of the tree. We are conducting a study on the effects of pruning on the architecture of cacao trees, in which we combine pruning experiments and plant modelling.

This MSc project aims to explore methods to quantify the architecture of cacao trees and capture changes in architecture due to pruning. It will be conducted in an ongoing pruning experiment (first pruning in April 2018) in a 10-year old stand.

Type of work
The project comprises field work for approximately 2 months in the research station of CNRA (National Agricultural Research Centre of Ivory Coast) in Divo, Ivory Coast. Field work will consist of measurements of dimensions (length, diameter) and orientation of stems and (main) branches. This will take place for both pruned and unpruned trees.

Learning outcome
Understand and measure tree architecture, understand effects of pruning, statistical analyses, field work skills.

Required skills
We are looking for an enthusiastic student, with very good adaptation skills and a working knowledge of French since in the research stations very few people speak English.

Agroforestry/ Africa/ Tropical zone
Used skills
Requirements REG-31806 Ecological Methods I