ABIDJAN, Sept 3 (Reuters) - A new wave of small cocoa pods is growing on trees in top producer Ivory Coast ahead of the October-to-March main crop harvest despite below average rainfall last week, farmers said on Monday.
Older pods are already ripening, the farmers added. They said the crop would be abundant until December and they expect to begin harvesting in around two weeks' time.
In the western region of Soubre, at the heart of the cocoa belt, farmers said the young pods had sufficient moisture to develop.
Reuters data showed that Soubre, which includes the towns of Sassandra and San Pedro, saw 14.4 millimeters (mm) of rainfall last week, 1 mm below the five-year average.
In the center-western region of Daloa, which produces a quarter of Ivory Coast's output, farmers said they expected a large amount of cocoa to leave the bush between November and December.
"If the rains are good and well-distributed in October, the season will be long and quality will remain high until January," said Amboise Aka, who farms near Daloa.
In Daloa, which includes the town of Bouafle, there was 24.8 mm of rainfall last week, according to Reuters data, 3.9 mm below the five-year average.
Farmers in other cocoa-growing regions said trees would continue to yield pods if the weather remained favorable.
Reuters data showed the following levels of rainfall in other Ivory Coast cocoa producing regions last week:
* Rainfall in the eastern region of Abengourou, which includes the town of Aboisso, totalled 9 mm last week, 4.5 mm below average.
* Rainfall was 3.7 mm above average in the southern region of Divo, at 20 mm, but 4.6 mm below average in the southern region of Agboville, which received 7.9 mm.
* In the western region of Man, which includes the town of Duekoue, rainfall was 19.4 mm last week, 19.4 mm below average.
* Rainfall was at 29 mm in the central region of Yamoussoukro, 8.6 above average, and 18.5 mm in the central region of Bongouanou, 0.4 mm below average.
Average temperatures in the cocoa-growing regions ranged from 24 to 25.7 degrees Celsius. (Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly Editing by Sofia Christensen and Susan Fenton)