Hello and good day!
The 2023 cacao harvest is now in full swing, and the pickups are getting bigger every day. On a regular day, our team will go out and pick up 2 - 5 tons of wet cacao from farms.
By wet, we mean that the cacao is freshly harvested from the pod and is still covered in its white mucilage. This means that a lot of the weight is mucilage weight, or water weight.
As cacao goes through post-harvest processing, fermenting, drying, etc., a lot of the weight will evaporate off. When all is said and done, we usually end up with 25% - 30% of the wet weight in exportable cacao.
The first two months of this harvest have been notably dry. And short-term drought conditions turn out to be very beneficial for cacao. Cacao likes to be water stressed and reacts by throwing off additional fruit.
Also, the diseases that terrorize cacao trees proliferate more effectively in damp conditions. The dryer than normal conditions are resulting in increased productivity from healthy trees, and we are seeing trees previously affected by disease becoming healthier.
This is all to the good.The general condition out in campo is heavy, torrential rains for long stretches of the year. This is obviously not ideal, but it is what it is. Tons of water pouring down nonstop is not good for agriculture.
It isn't necessarily intuitive, because you'd think that lots of rain and lots of sun would cause plants to grow bigger and be more fruitful. Out in campo where we buy cacao is one of the hottest regions in all of Peru.
There is always plenty of sun.
Ideally, you'd get a steady, even drizzle to go along with the heat and light. Once you get past a certain volume of rain, diminishing returns come on rapidly.
Usually around this time of year the rains are pounding down on our cacao farm partners and causing a lot of hardship. The roads get muddy and washed out and in some places are impossible to drive on.
Even cacao farmers who are flourishing economically and earning good money through our project can't escape the reality of bad roads. In general, it takes a government who can pool enough money and resources to come out and fix up roads.
But the place where we buy cacao is remote and sparsely populated. It doesn't represent a very powerful constituency that can put pressure on politicians. That is part of the fate of being born on a cacao farm in the district of Huarango.
And with all the damage that heavy rains can wreak, there isn't much of a payoff in terms of cacao production. Anyhow, the good news is that for now, the cacao harvest is going very well, and our wonderful partners are having an easy time of it and prospering.
The cacao we are buying now will start showing up in our chocolate later this year in the fall. We should be able to get a container of cacao out of Peru in Late March.
It will head to Switzerland and be made into chocolate. We'll wait until hot weather in the United States cools down before sending chocolate from Switzerland to Washington state so that we don't have to pay extra for refrigerated shipping.
If all goes according to plan, chocolate made with 2023 harvest cacao will be absolutely delicious. One of these days, if you find yourself with a couple free moments on your hands, why not say a prayer, or put some positive thoughts into the universe, whatever your protocol is, for our wonderful cacao farm partners.
They are salt of the earth people and a good cacao harvest with the right kind of rain would be a true blessing.
Thank you so much for your time today. I hope that you have a truly blessed day!
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