High risk of Black Pod in West African cocoa - Climate42 consultancy

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - There is a high risk this year of an outbreak of the devastating fungal disease known as Black Pod in cocoa crops in West Africa, according to agricultural weather consultancy Climate42.

In a report on Friday it said the wetter than normal weather throughout West Africa in August allowed the pathogen responsible for the Black Pod disease to survive in the plantations during the little dry season.

The above-average rains, said the consultancy, boosted warm and moist conditions in September and accelerated the spread of the disease.

"In light of these elements, our in-house analysis shows that the risk of a Black Pod outbreak in the coming weeks is higher than average everywhere except for in northern Cameroon," said the firm, which specializes in weather analysis for cocoa.

"Should the wet conditions continue into November, it could pose a serious threat to the late crop because infected pods will stay on the trees longer, allowing for the pathogen to spread even more," Climate42 said, adding that farmers this season should check the crops constantly to detect possible outbreaks early and apply control techniques.

Most analysts already expect lower cocoa production in Africa in the 2021/22 season that starts in October, which could result in a global supply deficit.

(Reporting by Marcelo Teixeira; editing by David Evans)

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