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Title: Cacao Culture in the Philippines

Author: William S. Lyon

Release Date: October 16, 2010 [EBook #33921]

Language: English


Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at for project
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                   Philippine Bureau of Agriculture.

                        Farmer's Bulletin No. 2.



                            WILLIAM S. LYON,

               In charge of seed and plant introduction.

        Prepared under the direction of the Chief of the Bureau.


                       Bureau of Public Printing.




        Letter of transmittal                 4
        Introduction                          5
        Climate                               6
        The plantation site                   7
        The soil                              7
        Preparation of the soil               8
        Drainage                              8
        Forming the plantation                9
        Selection of varieties               10
        Planting                             11
        Cultivation                          13
        Pruning                              13
        Harvest                              16
        Enemies and diseases                 18
        Manuring                             19
        Supplemental notes                   21
        New varieties                        21
        Residence                            21
        Cost of a cacao plantation           22


Sir: I submit herewith an essay on the cultivation of cacao, for the
use of planters in the Philippines. This essay is prompted first,
because much of the cacao grown here is of such excellent quality as
to induce keen rivalry among buyers to procure it at an advance of
quite 50 per cent over the common export grades of the Java bean,
notwithstanding the failure on the part of the local grower to
"process" or cure the product in any way; second, because in parts
of Mindanao and Negros, despite ill treatment or no treatment, the
plant exhibits a luxuriance of growth and wealth of productiveness
that demonstrates its entire fitness for those regions and leads us
to believe in the successful extension of its propagation throughout
these Islands; and lastly because of the repeated calls upon the Chief
of the Agricultural Bureau for literature or information bearing upon
this important horticultural industry.

The importance of cacao-growing in the Philippines can hardly be
overestimated. Recent statistics place the world's demand for cacao
(exclusive of local consumption) at 200,000,000 pounds, valued at
more than $30,000,000 gold.

There is little danger of overproduction and consequent low prices
for very many years to come. So far as known, the areas where cacao
prospers in the great equatorial zone are small, and the opening and
development of suitable regions has altogether failed to keep pace
with the demand.

The bibliography of cacao is rather limited, and some of the best
publications, [2] being in French, are unavailable to many. The leading
English treatise, by Professor Hart, [3] admirable in many respects,
deals mainly with conditions in Trinidad, West Indies, and is fatally
defective, if not misleading, on the all-important question of pruning.

The life history of the cacao, its botany, chemistry, and statistics
are replete with interest, and will, perhaps, be treated in a future


        Wm. S. Lyon,
        In Charge of Seed and Plant Introduction.

        Hon. F. Lamson-Scribner,
        Chief of the Insular Bureau of Agriculture.



Cacao in cultivation exists nearly everywhere in the Archipelago. I
have observed it in several provinces of Luzon, in Mindanao, Joló,
Basilan, Panay, and Negros, and have well-verified assurances of its
presence in Cebú, Bohol, and Masbate, and it is altogether reasonable
to predicate its existence upon all the larger islands anywhere under
an elevation of 1,000 or possibly 1,200 meters. Nevertheless, in many
localities the condition of the plants is such as not to justify the
general extension of cacao cultivation into all regions. The presence
of cacao in a given locality is an interesting fact, furnishing a
useful guide for investigation and agricultural experimentation, but,
as the purpose of this paper is to deal with cacao growing from a
commercial standpoint, it is well to state that wherever reference is
made to the growth, requirements, habits, or cultural treatment of the
plant the commercial aspect is alone considered. As an illustration,
attention is called to the statement made elsewhere, that "cacao exacts
a minimum temperature of 18°"; although, as is perfectly well known
to the writer, its fruit has sometimes matured where the recorded
temperatures have fallen as low as 10°. There is much to be learned
here by experimentation, for as yet the cultivation is primitive
in the extreme, pruning of any kind rudimentary or negative, and
"treatment" of the nut altogether unknown.

Elsewhere in cacao-producing countries its cultivation has long passed
the experimental stage, and the practices that govern the management
of a well-ordered cacao plantation are as clearly defined as those
of an orange grove in Florida or a vineyard in California.

In widely scattered localities the close observer will find many
young trees that in vigor, color, and general health leave nothing
to be desired, but before making final selection for a plantation he
should inspect trees of larger growth for evidences of "die back" of
the branches. If "die back" is present, superficial examination will
generally determine if it is caused by neglect or by the attacks
of insects. If not caused by neglect or insect attacks, he may
assume that some primary essential to the continued and successful
cultivation of the tree is wanting and that the location is unsuited
to profitable plantations.

With due regard to these preliminary precautions and a close
oversight of every subsequent operation, there is no reason why the
growing of cacao may not ultimately become one of the most profitable
horticultural enterprises that can engage the attention of planters
in this Archipelago.


It is customary, when writing of any crop culture, to give precedence
to site and soil, but in the case of cacao these considerations are
of secondary importance, and while none of the minor operations of
planting, pruning, cultivation, and fertilizing may be overlooked,
they are all outweighed by the single essential--climate.

In general, a state of atmospheric saturation keeps pace with heavy
rainfall, and for that reason we may successfully look for the highest
relative humidity upon the eastern shores of the Archipelago, where
the rainfall is more uniformly distributed over the whole year,
than upon the west.

There are places where the conditions are so peculiar as to challenge
especial inquiry. We find on the peninsula of Zamboanga a recorded
annual mean rainfall of only 888 mm., and yet cacao (unirrigated)
exhibits exceptional thrift and vigor. It is true that this rain is
so evenly distributed throughout the year that every drop becomes
available, yet the total rainfall is insufficient to account for
the very evident and abundant atmospheric humidity indicated by
the prosperous conditions of the cacao plantations. The explanation
of this phenomenon, as made to me by the Rev. Father Algué, of the
Observatory of Manila, is to the effect that strong equatorial ocean
currents constantly prevail against southern Mindanao, and that their
influence extend north nearly to the tenth degree of latitude. These
currents, carrying their moisture-laden atmosphere, would naturally
affect the whole of this narrow neck of land and influence as well
some of the western coast of Mindanao, and probably place it upon
the same favored hygrometric plane as the eastern coast, where the
rainfall in some localities amounts to 4 meters a year.

While 2,000 mm. of mean annual rainfall equably distributed is ample
to achieve complete success, it seems almost impossible to injure
cacao by excessive precipitation. It has been known to successfully
tide over inundation of the whole stem up to the first branches for
a period covering nearly a month.

Irrigation must be resorted to in cases of deficient or unevenly
distributed rainfall, and irrigation is always advantageous whenever
there is suspension of rain for a period of more than fifteen days.

Concerning temperatures the best is that with an annual mean of 26°
to 28°, with 20° as the mean minimum where any measure of success
may be expected. A mean temperature of over 30° is prejudicial to
cacao growing.

The last but not least important of the atmospheric phenomena for
our consideration are the winds. Cacao loves to "steam and swelter in
its own atmosphere" and high winds are inimical, and even refreshing
breezes are incompatible, with the greatest success. As there are but
few large areas in these Islands that are exempt from one or other
of our prevailing winds, the remedies that suggest themselves are:
The selection of small sheltered valleys where the prevailing winds
are directly cut off by intervening hills or mountains; the plantation
of only small groves in the open, and their frequent intersection by
the plantation of rapid growing trees; and, best of all, plantings
made in forest clearings, where the remaining forested lands will
furnish the needed protection.


It is always desirable to select a site that is approximately level
or with only enough fall to assure easy drainage. Such sites may
be planted symmetrically and are susceptible to the easiest and
most economical application of the many operations connected with
a plantation.

Provided the region is well forested and therefore protected from
sea breezes, the plantation may be carried very near to the coast,
provided the elevation is sufficient to assure the grove immunity from
incursions of tide water, which, however much diluted, will speedily
cause the death of the plants.

Excavations should be made during the dry season to determine that
water does not stand within 1 1/2 meters of the surface, a more
essential condition, however, when planting is made "at stake" than
when nursery reared trees are planted.

Hillsides, when not too precipitous, frequently offer admirable shelter
and desirable soils, but their use entails a rather more complicated
system of drainage, to carry away storm water without land washing,
and for the ready conversion of the same into irrigating ditches during
the dry season. Further, every operation involved must be performed
by hand labor, and in the selection of such a site the planter must
be largely influenced by the quantity and cost of available labor.

The unexceptionable shelter, the humidity that prevails, and the
inexhaustible supply of humus that is generally found in deep
forest ravines frequently lead to their planting to cacao where
the slope is even as great as 45°. Such plantations, if done upon
a considerable commercial scale, involve engineering problems and
the careful terracing of each tree, and, except for a dearth of more
suitable locations, is a practice that has little to commend it to
the practical grower.


Other things being equal, preference should be given to a not too
tenacious, clayey loam. Selection, in fact, may be quite successfully
made through the process of exclusion, and by eliminating all soils
of a very light and sandy nature, or clays so tenacious that the
surface bakes and cracks while still too wet within 3 or 4 inches of
the surface to operate with farm tools. These excluded, still leave
a very wide range of silt, clay, and loam soils, most of which are
suitable to cacao culture.

Where properly protected from the wind a rocky soil, otherwise good,
is not objectionable; in fact, such lands have the advantage of
promoting good drainage.


When the plantation is made upon forest lands, it is necessary to
cut and burn all underbrush, together with all timber trees other
than those designed for shade. If such shade trees are left (and the
advisability of leaving them will be discussed in the proper place),
only those of the pulse or bean family are to be recommended. It should
also be remembered that, owing in part to the close planting of cacao
and in part to the fragility of its wood and its great susceptibility
to damage resulting from wounds, subsequent removal of large shade
trees from the plantation is attended with difficulty and expense,
and the planter should leave few shade trees to the hectare. Clearing
the land should be done during the dry season, and refuse burned in
situ, thereby conserving to the soil the potash salts so essential
to the continued well-being of cacao.

The land should be deeply plowed, and, if possible, subsoiled as well,
and then, pending the time of planting the orchard, it may be laid
down to corn, cotton, beans, or some forage plant. Preference should
be given to "hoed crops," as it is essential to keep the surface in
open tilth, as well as to destroy all weeds.

The common practice in most cacao-growing countries is to simply dig
deep holes where the trees are to stand, and to give a light working
to the rest of the surface just sufficient to produce the intermediate
crops. This custom is permissible only on slopes too steep for the
successful operation of a side hill plow, or where from lack of draft
animals all cultivation has to be done by hand.

Cacao roots deeply, and with relatively few superficial feeders,
and the deeper the soil is worked the better.


The number and size of the drains will depend upon the amount of
rainfall, the contour of the land, and the natural absorbent character
of the soil. In no case should the ditches be less than 1 meter wide
and 60 cm. deep, and if loose stones are at hand the sloping sides
may be laid with them, which will materially protect them from washing
by torrential rains.

These main drains should all be completed prior to planting. Connecting
laterals may be opened subsequently, as the necessities of further
drainage or future irrigation may demand; shallow furrows will
generally answer for these laterals, and as their obliteration will
practically follow every time cultivation is given, their construction
may be of the cheapest and most temporary nature. Owing to the
necessity of main drainage canals and the needful interplanting of
shade plants between the rows of cacao, nothing is gained by laying off
the land for planting in what is called "two ways," and all subsequent
working of the orchard will consequently be in one direction.


Cacao, relatively to the size of the tree, may be planted very
closely. We have stated that it rejoices in a close, moisture-laden
atmosphere, and this permits of a closer planting than would be
admissible with any other orchard crop.

In very rich soil the strong-growing Forastero variety may be planted
3.7 meters apart each way, or 745 trees to the hectare, and on lighter
lands this, or the more dwarf-growing forms of Criollo, may be set
as close as 3 meters or rather more than 1,000 trees to the hectare.

The rows should be very carefully lined out in one direction and
staked where the young plants are to be set, and then (a year before
the final planting) between each row of cacao a line of temporary
shelter plants are to be planted. These should be planted in quincunx
order, i. e., at the intersecting point of two lines drawn between
the diagonal corners of the square made by four cacaos set equidistant
each way. This temporary shelter is indispensable for the protection
of the young plantation from wind and sun.

The almost universal custom is to plant, for temporary shelter, suckers
of fruiting bananas, but throughout the Visayas and in Southern Luzon
I think abacá could be advantageously substituted. It is true that,
as commonly grown, abacá does not make so rank a growth as some
of the plantains, but if given the perfect tillage which the cacao
plantation should receive, and moderately rich soils, abacá ought to
furnish all necessary shade. This temporary shade may be maintained
till the fourth or fifth year, when it is to be grubbed out and the
stalks and stumps, which are rich in nitrogen, may be left to decay
upon the ground. At present prices, the four or five crops which
may be secured from the temporary shelter plants ought to meet the
expenses of the entire plantation until it comes into bearing.

In the next step, every fourth tree in the fourth or fifth row
of cacao may be omitted and its place filled by a permanent shade
tree. The planting of shade trees or "madre de cacao" among the cacao
has been observed from time immemorial in all countries where the crop
is grown, and the primary purpose of the planting has been for shade
alone. Observing that these trees were almost invariably of the pulse
or legume family, the writer, in the year 1892, raised the question,
in the Proceedings of the Southern California Horticultural Society,
that the probable benefits derived were directly attributable to the
abundant fertilizing microörganisms developed in the soil by these
leguminous plants, rather than the mechanical protection they afforded
from the sun's rays.

To Mr. O. F. Cook, of the United States Department of Agriculture,
however, belongs the credit of publishing, in 1901, [4] a résumé of
his inquiries into the subject of the shades used for both the coffee
and the cacao, and which fully confirmed the previous opinions that
the main benefit derived from these trees was their influence in
maintaining a constant supply of available nitrogen in the soil.

That cacao and its wild congenors naturally seek the shelter of
well-shaded forests is well established; but having seen trees in these
Islands that were fully exposed at all times showing no evidences of
either scald, burn, or sun spot, and in every respect the embodiment
of vigor and health, we are fully justified in assuming that here the
climatic conditions are such as will permit of taking some reasonable
liberties with this time-honored practice and supply needed nitrogen
to the soil by the use of cheap and effective "catch crops," such us
cowpeas or soy beans.

Here, as elsewhere, an Erythrina, known as "dap-dap," is a favorite
shade tree among native planters; the rain tree (Pithecolobium saman)
is also occasionally used, and in one instance only have I seen a
departure from the use of the Leguminosæ, and that in western Mindanao,
there is a shade plantation composed exclusively of Cananga odorata,
locally known as ilang-ilang.

While not yet prepared to advocate the total exclusion of all shade
trees, I am prepared to recommend a shade tree, if shade trees there
must be, whose utility and unquestioned value has singularly escaped
notice. The tree in question, the Royal Poinciana (Poinciana regia),
embodies all of the virtues that are ascribed to the best of the
pulse family, is easily procured, grows freely and rapidly from seed
or cutting, furnishes a minimum of shade at all times, and, in these
Islands, becomes almost leafless, at the season of maturity of the
largest cacao crop when the greatest sun exposure is desired.

The remaining preparatory work consists in the planting of intersecting
wind breaks at intervals throughout the grove, and upon sides exposed
to winds, or where a natural forest growth does not furnish such a
shelter belt. Unless the plantation lies in a particularly protected
valley, no plantation, however large in the aggregate, should cover
more than 4 or 5 hectares unbroken by at least one row of wind-break
trees. Nothing that I know of can approach the mango for this
purpose. It will hold in check the fiercest gale and give assurance
to the grower that after any storm his cacao crop is still on the
trees and not on the ground, a prey to ants, mice, and other vermin.


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 case 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, [5] 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 Camarines,
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.


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 necessity of repeated plantings. Success by planting
"at stake" is so doubtful that it is rarely followed by experienced

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 sites 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 difficult 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 well-decomposed 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.


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 harrow-tooth 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 growth 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 abacá, 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 overcrowding.

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 attained.

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 not 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 lines, 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
every 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 worm-riddled
trees to be seen in the Archipelago, it is easy in every case to
trace the cause to the neglect and brutal treatment which left them
in a condition to invite the attacks of disease of every kind.


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 saleable 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 apparatus
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
several 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 fermentation.

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 résumé 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 upon 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.


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
mineral  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 vassiliére 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 repellent, however, to most insects that its prophylactic virtues
would undoubtedly be great.

The Philippine Islands appear to be so far singularly 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 better.

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.


There are few cultivated crops that make less drain upon soil
fertility than cacao, and few drafts upon the land are so easily and
inexpensively returned. From an examination made of detailed analyses
by many authors and covering many regions, it may be broadly stated
that an average crop of cacao in the most-favored districts is about
9 piculs per hectare, and that of the three all-important elements of
nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, a total of slightly more than
4.2 kilograms is removed in each picul of cured seeds harvested. These
37 kilos of plant food that are annually taken from each hectare may
be roughly subdivided as follows:

                    18 kilos of nitrogen,
                    10 kilos of potash,
                     9 kilos of phosphoric acid.

On this basis, after the plantation is in full bearing, we would have
to make good with standard fertilizers each year for each hectare
about 220 kilos of nitrate of soda, or, if the plantation was shaded
with leguminous trees, only one-half that amount, or 110 kilos. Of
potash salts, say the sulphate, only one-half that amount, or 55
kilos, if the plantation was unshaded. If, however, it was shaded,
as the leguminous trees are all heavy feeders of potash, we would
have to double the amount and use 110 kilos.

In any case, as fixed nitrogen always represents a cost quite double
that of potash, from an economical standpoint the planter is still
the gainer who supplies potash to the shade trees. There still remains
phosphoric acid, which, in the form of the best superphosphate of lime,
would require 55 kilos for unshaded orchards, and about 70 if dap-dap,
Pionciana, or any leguminous tree was grown in the orchard. These
three ingredients may be thoroughly incorporated and used as a top
dressing and lightly harrowed in about each tree.

If the commercial nitrates can not be readily obtained, then
recourse must be had to the sparing use of farm manures. Until the
bearing age these may be used freely, but after that with caution and
discrimination. Although I have seen trees here that have been bearing
continuously for twenty-two years, I have been unable to find so much
as one that to the knowledge of the oldest resident has ever been
fertilized in any way, yet, notwithstanding our lack of knowledge of
local conditions, it seems perfectly safe to predicate that liberal
manuring with stable manure or highly ammoniated fertilizers would
insure a rank, succulent growth that is always prejudicial to the best
and heaviest fruit production. In this I am opposed to Professor Hart,
[6] who seems to think that stable manures are those only that may
be used with a free hand.

We have many safe ways of applying nitrogen through the medium of
various catch crops of pulse or beans, with the certainty that we
can never overload the soil with more than the adjacent tree roots
can take up and thoroughly assimilate. When the time comes that the
orchard so shades the ground that crops can no longer be grown between
the rows, then, in preference to stable manures I would recommend
cotton-seed cake or "poonac," the latter being always obtainable in
this Archipelago.

While the most desirable form in which potash can be applied is in
the form of the sulphate, excellent results have been had with the
use of Kainit or Stassfurth salts, and as a still more available
substitute, wood ashes is suggested. When forest lands are near,
the underbrush may be cut and burned in a clearing or wherever it
may be done without detriment to the standing timber, and the ashes
scattered in the orchard before they have been leached by rains. The
remaining essential of phosphoric acid in the form of superphosphates
will for some years to come necessarily be the subject of direct
importation. In the cheap form of phosphate slag it is reported to
have been used with great success in both Grenada and British Guiana,
and would be well worthy of trial here.

Lands very rich in humus, as some of our forest valleys are,
undoubtedly carry ample nitrogenous elements of fertility to maintain
the trees at a high standard of growth for many years, but provision
is indispensable for a regular supply of potash and phosphoric acid
as soon as the trees come into heavy bearing. It is to them and not
to the nitrogen that we look for the formation of strong, stocky,
well-ripened wood capable of fruit bearing and for fruit that shall
be sound, highly flavored, and well matured.

The bearing life of such a tree will surely be healthfully prolonged
for many years beyond one constantly driven with highly stimulating
foods, and in the end amply repay the grower for the vigilance,
toil, and original expenditure of money necessary to maintaining a
well-grown and well-appointed cacao plantation.


New Varieties.--Cacao is exclusively grown from seed, and it is only
by careful selection of the most valuable trees that the planter
can hope to make the most profitable renewals or additions to his
plantations. It is by this means that many excellent sorts are now
in cultivation in different regions that have continued to vary from
the three original, common forms of Theobroma cacao, until now it is
a matter of some difficulty to differentiate them.

Residence.--The conditions for living in the Philippines offer
peculiar, it may be said unexampled, advantages to the planter of
cacao. The climate as a whole is remarkably salubrious, and sites are
to be found nearly everywhere for the estate buildings, sufficiently
elevated to obviate the necessity of living near stagnant waters.

Malarial fevers are relatively few, predacious animals unknown,
and insects and reptiles prejudicial to human life or health
extraordinarily few in number. In contrast to this we need only
call attention to the entire Caribbean coast of South America, where
the climate and soil conditions are such that the cacao comes to a
superlative degree of perfection, and yet the limits of its further
extension have probably been reached by the insuperable barrier of
a climate so insalubrious that the Caucasian's life is one endless
conflict with disease, and when not engaged in active combat with some
form of malarial poisoning his energies are concentrated upon battle
with the various insect or animal pests that make life a burden in
such regions.

Nonresidence upon a cacao plantation is an equivalent term for ultimate
failure. Every operation demands the exercise of the observant
eye and the directing hand of a master, but there is no field of
horticultural effort that offers more assured reward, or that will
more richly repay close study and the application of methods wrought
out as the sequence of those studies.


Estimates of expenses in establishing a cacao farm in the Visayas
and profits after the fifth year. The size of the farm selected is
16 hectares, the amount of land prescribed by Congress of a single
public land entry. The cost of procuring such a tract of land
is as yet undetermined and can not be reckoned in the following
tables. The prices of the crop are estimated at 48 cents per kilo,
which is the current price for the best grades of cacao in the world's
markets. The yield per tree is given as 2 catties, or 1.25 kilos,
a fair and conservative estimate for a good tree, with little or
no cultivation. The prices for unskilled labor are 25 per cent in
advance of the farm hand in the Visayan islands. No provision is
made for management or supervision, as the owner will, it is assumed,
act as manager.

Charges to capital account are given for the second, third, and fourth
year, but no current expenses are given, for other crops are to defray
operating expenses until the cacao trees begin to bear. No estimate
of residence is given. All accounts are in United States currency.

                       Expendable the first year.

Capital account:

    Clearing of average brush and timber land, at
    $15 per hectare                                   $340.00
    Four carabaos, plows, harrows, cultivators,
    carts, etc.                                        550.00
    Breaking and preparing land, at $5 per hectare      80.00
    Opening main drainage canals, at $6 per hectare     96.00
    Tool house and storeroom                           200.00
    Purchase and planting 10,000 abacá stools, at
    2 cents each                                       200.00
    Seed purchase, rearing and planting 12,000 cacao,
    at 3 cents each                                    360.00
    Contingent and incidental                          174.00
      Total                                                   $2,000.00

                              Second year.

    Interest on investment                            $200.00
    Depreciation on tools, buildings, and animals
    (20 per cent of cost)                              150.00

                              Third year.

    Interest on investment                            $200.00
    Depreciation as above                              150.00

                              Fourth year.

    Interest on investment                            $200.00
    Depreciation as above                              150.00
    Building of drying house and sweat boxes,
    capacity 20,000 kilos                              450.00
      Total capital investment                                 3,500.00

                              Fifth year.

Income account:

    From 11,680 cacao trees, 300 grams cacao each,
    equals 3,500 kilos, at 48 cents                            1,680.00

Expense account:

    Fixed interest and depreciation charges on
    investment of $3,500.00                         $350.00
    Taxes 1 1/2 per cent on a one-third valuation
    basis of $250 per hectare                         60.00
    Cultivating, pruning, etc., at $5.50 per
    hectare                                           88.00
    Fertilizing, at $6 per hectare                    96.00
    Harvesting, curing, packing 3,500 kilos cacao,
    at 10 cents per kilo                             350.00
    Contingent                                        86.00
    Credit balance                                               650.00

                              Sixth year.

Income account:

    From 11,680 cacao trees, at 500 grams cacao each,
    equals 5,840 kilos, at 48 cents                            2,803.20

Expense account:

    Fixed interest and depreciation charges
    as above                                        $350.00
    Taxes as above                                    60.00
    Cultivating, etc., as above                       88.00
    Fertilizing, at $8 per hectare                   128.00
    Harvesting, etc., 5,840 kilos cacao, at 10
    cents per kilo                                   584.00
    Contingent                                        93.20
    Credit balance                                             1,500.00

                             Seventh year.

Income account:

    From 11,680 cacao trees, at 750 grams cacao each,
    equals 8,760 kilos, at 48 cents                            4,204.80

Expense account:

    Fixed interest charges as above                 $350.00
    Taxes as above                                    60.00
    Cultivating, etc., as above                       88.00
    Fertilizing, at $10 per hectare                  160.00
    Harvest, etc., of 8,760 kilos of cacao, at
    10 cents per kilo                                876.00
    Contingent                                       170.80
    Credit balance                                             2,500.00

                              Eighth year.

Income account:

    From 11,680 cacao trees, at 1 kilo cacao each,
    equals 11,680 kilos, at 48 cents                           5,606.40

Expense account:

    Fixed interest charges as above                 $350.00
    Taxes as above                                    60.00
    Cultivating, etc., as above                       88.00
    Fertilizing, at $12.50 per hectare               200.00
    Harvest, etc., 11,680 kilos of cacao, at
    10 cents per kilo                              1,168.00
    Contingent                                       240.40
    Credit balance                                             3,500.00

                              Ninth year.

Income account:

    From 11,680 trees, at 2 "catties" or 1.25 kilos
    cacao each, equals 14,600 kilos, at 48 cents               7,008.00

Expense account:

    Fixed interest charges as above                 $350.00
    Taxes at 1 1/2 per cent on a one-third
    valuation of $500 per hectare                    120.00
    Cultivation and pruning as above                  88.00
    Fertilizing, at $15 per hectare                  240.00
    Harvesting, etc., of 14,600 kilos of cacao, at
    10 cents per kilo                              1,460.00
    Contingent                                       250.00
    Credit balance                                             4,500.00

In the tenth year there should be no increase in taxes or fertilizers,
and a slight increase in yield, sufficient to bring the net profits
of the estate to the approximate amount of $5,000. This would amount
to a dividend of rather more than $312 per hectare, or its equivalent
of about $126 per acre.

These tables further show original capitalization cost of nearly $90
per acre, and from the ninth year annual operating expenses of rather
more than $60 per acre.

It should be stated, however, that the operating expenses are based
upon a systematic and scientific management of the estate; while the
returns or income are based upon revenue from trees that are at the
disadvantage of being without culture of any kind, and, while I am
of the opinion that the original cost per acre of the plantation, nor
its current operating expenses may be much reduced below the figures
given, I feel that there is a reasonable certainty that the crop
product may be materially increased beyond the limit of two "catties."

In Camerouns, Dr. Preuss, a close and well-trained observer, gives
the mean annual yield of trees of full-bearing age at 4.4 pounds.

Mr. Rousselot places the yield on the French Congo at the same
figure. In the Caroline Islands it reaches 5 pounds and in Surinam,
according to M. Nichols, the average at maturity is 6 1/2 pounds. In
Mindanao, I have been told, but do not vouch for the report, of
more than ten "catties" taken in one year from a single tree; and,
as there are well-authenticated instances of record, of single trees
having yielded as much as 30 pounds, I am not prepared to altogether
discredit the Mindanao story.

The difference, however, between good returns and enormous profits
arising from cacao growing in the Philippines will be determined by
the amount of knowledge, experience, and energy that the planter is
capable of bringing to bear upon the culture in question.


[1] A short introduction to cacao and its cultivation in the

[2] Le Cacaoyer, par Henri Jumelle. Culture de Cacaoyer dans Guadaloupe
par Dr Paul Guerin.

[3] Cacao, by J. H. Hart, F. L. S. Trinidad.

[4] "Shade in Coffee Culture." U. S. Dept. Ag., Washington, 1901.

[5] According to "Historia de Filipinas," 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.

[6] "Cacao," p. 16.

End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of Cacao Culture in the Philippines, by 
William S. Lyon


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