Friday, February 12, 2021

Branching Cacao Trees

As promised this is a post about all the different ways I have seen and photographed cacao trees branching out.  Of course you have the typical sprout at the connection point of a leaf.  This is the usual way trees branch.  It's a weak point in the structure of the plant and thus an obvious point where trees push out new growth.  It not only keeps the structure going but strengthens the plant in that area.

Similarly I've noticed crepe myrtles doing the same thing. Also if you prevent new growth by brushing off the new green, the plant usually still strengthens the area by making a callous hardness to the stem or branch.  In some trees you can encourage growth by removing lower leaves as the plant grows.  I did this with a fig tree and got the branches to not only get taller but thicker and stronger in a single season of growth.

Also the new growth replaces previous stem areas as in this picture.  This is a case where the top of the tree died back and new growth continued from right next to the area where it used to be.  Now it has produced sucker shoots at the same location, again these start at areas of weak points on a plant but in this case they can actually weaken a tree by taking nutrients to grow stems that usually aren't as strong.

These can still be productive but it's probably a good idea to remove them so the better limbs can be as good as possible.  Do this before they start getting woody for ease of removal and to minimize any potential damage that can be done to the tree.  Cacao trees can easily be damaged especially when harvesting the fruits which is why the fruit is usually harvested with machetes.  This keeps the fruiting pads healthy and productive for the life of the tree. 
This has to be one of the most unusual branching occurrences I've ever seen.  The new growth has started out of an extension of the leaf base which pushed the leaf further from the trunk and made this bendy branch leaf thing.  Again you can see it started at a weak point in the tree where a branch has already occurred.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Claude the Cacao Tree, Repotted

So we finally repotted Claude the Cacao Tree.
So far so good.  It's been a few days and no sign of stress.  The root ball came out pretty much in tact though so I don't really expect any problems.  He's now got a lot more room to grow though and will probably live in this new pot for a long time.

As  you can see in the picture, he's got a new sprout forming at the bottom.  If he's truly happy he will turn that into a branch and begin the branching process.

I was told recently that for a truly productive cacao tree you needed it to branch first.  So here we go.

Speaking of branching though, there are lots of ways these guys branch.  I took some photos of my office cacao trees and they many ways they have started branching.  They aren't nearly so big but the branching is much more there.

I will include these pics in a future post noting how many different ways a tree can start branching out.  One of them is truly unusual and nothing I'd have though would be possible.  So, come back and see the branching post shortly.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Claude is Sprouting Again

A couple days ago there was just the one new leaf sprouting.  Now we've got three going at one time.  A couple of the other cacao plants are also having new leaves.  I'm going to blame it on having a nice window to grow next to.  Every day we open the blinds and they get a bit of sun and nice light throughout the day.

Now all I have to do is make the area also productive for the vanilla to start growing better and make some beans.  They're already long enough to start flowering but haven't had the right conditions to do so.

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 26, 2020

Minimal Cacao Cold Damage

You've probably heard that cacao can't really survive cold very well. While that's probably true to some extent, the numbers I keep seeing seem to be more of an overall guideline for yearly temperatures.  The range typically says 50-90 degrees.  Lower than 50 is said to damage the trees while above 90 is said to prevent growth.

We went out of town and left several cacao trees on the patio thinking it wouldn't get very cold while we were gone.  I was surprised to see the weather app say it got to 45 one evening and there was no way I was going to get back to it.  Fortunately the plants were fine.  One new leaf on one of the trees did have some damage but all of the rest of the trees and leaves seemed to have no adverse effects.  I come to the conclusion that I need a reliable gauge to see when I need to worry.  If the trees really can do just fine in 40 degree weather (just without new growth coming in) then that is something I would really like to know.

After doing some research, it seems like cacao trees can indeed survive much colder temperatures.  I wouldn't make it a habit but even where it grows naturally, southern Mexico, it can drop even into the thirties occasionally.  This is by far not the normal temperature but it just shows that even temperatures below 40 won't necessarily kill your cacao tree.  I, of course, want the trees to grow well so I think I'll just keep my trees inside.