Author Topic: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals  (Read 836 times)

hin00n

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Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« on: November 04, 2023, 11:15:07 AM »
Hello all. So I've been doing digging on cacao, and have become interested in growing it. I still have a few questions about it, so I was hoping somebody here might be able to answer.

I've read conflicting reports of which zones cacao grows in. The most common one I've seen is 11-12, however I've seen some report 10-12. I'm borderline between zone 9b and 10a, and have grown lychee seedlings unprotected here. I've also seen a video of a guy growing them in zone 10a Florida, although he says he killed hundreds of seedlings before getting fruit.

I'm also aware that it is drier here than Florida. I'm in the Bay area, so it isn't as dry as socal or the valley, with average humidity near 65%.

Finally, which varietals do you think would be best. I'm interested in growing criollo, but I hear it's less hardy. Is there a difference in cold tolerance between cultivars?

Bush2Beach

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2023, 12:21:24 PM »
there was a crfg tour in Aptos one year. This guy had a 20 + year old Cacao in a pot in his garage that I do not think had fruited.
If it was possible I think goodland organics 3 hours south in the sweet spot would have tried.
I don't think it is doable outside of a houseplant.  Don't let zone ambiguity get it twisted. If you overwintered Lychee seedlings unprotected last winter you must be in a pretty sweet spot in the East Bay yourself though. worth a shot to play with from free seeds but I wouldn't buy tree's.
 

Daintree

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2023, 01:19:54 PM »
I grow cacao very successfully in my greenhouse.
But when I first started out I did not have adequate winter heat and killed cacao at 45 degrees.
So I would say do'nt even try it unless you can provide winter protection in the form os some sort of heated pop-up greenhouse,

Carolyn

hin00n

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2023, 06:52:29 PM »
I was planning on buying seeds from Montoso Gardens. Maybe a fruit if I can get a criollo so the seeds are fresher. I'd be willing to overwinter them indoors and mist daily. It rarely goes below 40 here so indoors might work. And I'll keep it in the shade during the growing season. I'm on the Peninsula, my citys motto is climate best by government test. I'll be moving to most likely 10 ain the east bay within a year or two, so longterm it might be better.

I'm willing to kill a bunch of seedlings to get a couple that work.

Thanks

booeyschewy

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2023, 04:27:29 AM »
Lychee is a borderline tropical plant that is from the margins of the subtropics and likes a chilly winter. Cacao is an ultratropical plant from equatorial rainforest environments. To give perspective I live in one of those areas and here if you move some 50km inland the temps are the same mostly but rain drops from 1500-2500mm per year to 800-1200. People struggle to grow cacao in that environment and have to use irrigation. Cacao is a very disease prone species and cold stresses, excessive shade or sun, drought etc can all worsen those. Not saying it canít be done you just have to recreate the environment.

Daintree

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2023, 08:06:48 AM »
I do not know of any difference in cold tolerance, because they really all have no cold tolerance.
I would say what you are trying won't work, but everybody told me I couldn't fruit cacao in Idaho either, and I do.  But you will find that it will be way more than just bringing it indoors and misting it daily.  Dealing with twice yearly environmental shock is pretty hard to overcome. I can kill a mature cacao by moving it ten feet to a different spot in the greenhouse.
And for heavens sake don't tell the poor seedlings you are willing to kill them! They may revolt and take you out...

Carolyn

Finca La Isla

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2023, 08:07:39 AM »
Iím not sure I would go with criollo for CA.  Personally Iíd try and get something from Peru where cacao is grown at higher altitudes for more cold resistance.  Maybe a higher growing porcelana.  Those guys have trouble getting a good fermentation because itís too cold there.
Peter

Tropheus76

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2023, 09:27:49 AM »
Not sure why you used lychee as an example. It actually requires chill hours that would kill a cocoa plant, its why they grow fairly well here in Southern Central Florida 9B where we get freezes every year. Cocoa is incredibly fragile and I think even in zone 10 it would require a greenhouse or to be brought indoors on the regular.

TropicalFruitSeeker

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2023, 11:01:28 AM »
Carolyn do you have 2 trees? Do you hand cross pollenate? I really want to get cacao in my greenhouse but dont know if I'd have space for 2.

Finca La Isla

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2023, 12:36:43 PM »
Many cacao are self fertile.
Peter

Xenon

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2023, 12:46:34 PM »
Lychee is a million times more cold hardy than cacao. Fairchild near Miami has a mature cacao in zone 11a and even it gets cold damage once or twice a decade when the low is near 40F. The handful of nights below 55F are enough to cause flower drop and fruit abortion in the "winter".

Zone 10 in Florida is also a million (x1000) times more tropical than Bay Area zone 10, it's not "just drier"...the difference is night and day in temperature and overall weather pattern. Equating Florida zones with California zones is 100% wrong and will just cause you heartbreak. Bay Area obviously has nothing to do with warm beaches lined with coconuts. No parallel whatsoever!

Frog Valley Farm

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2023, 01:04:17 PM »
The Greatest Superfood Of All Fruits - Cocoa Fruit - Natural Farming - November 05, 2023
https://youtu.be/14lUixD0Ucs

Bush2Beach

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2023, 03:24:52 PM »
Thank you, truth speaker.
There are so many amazing rare sub-tropical fruits you can grow in the Bay area.
 experimenting with free seeds out of curiosity can be a good learning experience.
But purchasing tropical treeís i think is a waste of time and money. Usually shipped in , completely un adapted and go downhill fast. The extreme temperature swings night to day and multiple days of highs in the 40ís and 50ís plus wet is what it is.
Lychee is a million times more cold hardy than cacao. Fairchild near Miami has a mature cacao in zone 11a and even it gets cold damage once or twice a decade when the low is near 40F. The handful of nights below 55F are enough to cause flower drop and fruit abortion in the "winter".

Zone 10 in Florida is also a million (x1000) times more tropical than Bay Area zone 10, it's not "just drier"...the difference is night and day in temperature and overall weather pattern. Equating Florida zones with California zones is 100% wrong and will just cause you heartbreak. Bay Area obviously has nothing to do with warm beaches lined with coconuts. No parallel whatsoever!

hin00n

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2023, 03:34:08 PM »
I found the video very interesting. I'll give dry farming a shot once I have some land. In the meanwhile I guess I'll use supplemental mycorrhizae to experiment, plant deep, and mulch heavy. Its very encouraging seeing someone growing it with similar lows just above 30f.

I reached out to montoso gardens, they recently planted Porcelana, and will have it available within a few years. I'll give criollo a shot first, try overwintering some indoors, some outdoors. Porcelana definitely interests me more long term though.

Tortuga

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2023, 06:31:59 AM »
Lychee is a million times more cold hardy than cacao. Fairchild near Miami has a mature cacao in zone 11a and even it gets cold damage once or twice a decade when the low is near 40F. The handful of nights below 55F are enough to cause flower drop and fruit abortion in the "winter".

Yeah I was there last winter and the cacao had cold damage from the low 40s

Louie

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2023, 01:39:59 PM »
Here are pictures of the cacao tree I grew as a seedling from a pod from montoso gardens about 5 years ago. I bring it inside next to a window when lows drop to 45-50 regularly and it goes back outside in the spring usually around March. Itís flowered the last couple years but Iím not holding my breath on actually getting pods.Climate is a fair amount milder here than the Bay Area but itís been fairly easy to grow as long as you keep it protected when the weather cools.






K-Rimes

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2023, 02:03:13 PM »
Good looks Louie, I am also an SB collector, hope to meet you! Amazing you're pulling that off here.

Bush2Beach

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2023, 08:34:00 PM »
Holy Smokes Louie! What a beautiful specimen . Look at all that delicious retained heat from the stucco and brick. You must have some other tricks up your sleeve fruit wise if your Cacao is looking that nice.

hin00n

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2023, 06:00:00 PM »
Wow it's massive. Very encouraging. Thanks for the knowledge.

Louie

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Re: Cacao Growers, zone pushing and varietals
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2023, 09:48:20 PM »
Wow it's massive. Very encouraging. Thanks for the knowledge.

Iíve been surprised at how little care it takes outside of keeping it out of cold and in shade. This one gets a 1-2 hours of morning/evening sunlight. This is in a pot that itís outgrown and I canít remember the last time I fertilized it. Sprouting seeds from a pod was the most economical way for me to get fresh seeds. If you do that clean them really well including taking off the thin skin between the fruit and the actual seed. Doing that increased germination and decreased seed rot for me.