Indian pollinators of cocoa, Theobroma cacao L.
Cocoa is the third important beverage crop grown for its beans which are mainly used in the chocolate industry. It is the only tree species of economic importance in the family Malvaceae. Cocoa flowers are produced in large numbers but only few of them develop into fruits. Self-incompatibility is a special feature present in cocoa. Pollination is a major concern in this crop. A field experiment was carried out in the farmer's holdings at Sethumadai, Pollachi and at Coconut Research Station, TNAU, Aliyar Nagar during 2013-2014 to study the Indian pollinators of cocoa. Results of the field experiment on pollinators of cocoa revealed that cocoa is pollinated by small midges, Forcipomyia spp. belonging to the family Ceratopogonidae, Diptera. Results of field experiments to study the mechanism of pollination revealed that caging of two cocoa entries viz., CCRP 1 and CCRP 2 with 100 kg of decomposed leaf litter as pollinator breeding substrate resulted in the production of 27 matured pods in both the trees over a period of four months. Whereas, the same entries, under similar setup without pollinator breeding substrate resulted in no pod set in both the trees over a period of four months. These results proved the entomophilous nature of cocoa. From the field experiments, Forcipomyia spp. is identified as a potential pollinator of cocoa in India. Decomposed banana pseudostem and decomposed leaf litter were identified as the best pollinator breeding substrates.
Suganthy, M., Gopi Krishna, K., Mohan Kumar, S. and Jegadeeswari, V. (2019). Indian pollinators of cocoa, Theobroma cacao L.. Acta Hortic. 1241, 451-458
cocoa, pollination, pollinator breeding substrate, cocoa leaf litter