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TSIPS has established cocoa nursery technology to strengthen cocoa seedlings
Cocoa is one of the emerging crops in Pingtung Taiwan. For enhancing the quality of the cocoa seedling, TSIPS has improved the nursery method to resolve the direct seeding problem like inconsistent and microbial infection. Therefore, TSIPS establishes a standard operating procedure for cocoa seedlings production, including seed treatment, seed storage methods and screening of seedling pot sizes. The SOP could enhance consistent germination rate, reduce 50% contamination and shorten seed germination by 14-21days.
TSPIS said, cocoa seeds covered with a sticky, sugary pulp always attract microbial growth, resulting in reducing the quality of cocoa seedlings. Cocoa seed is recalcitrant. The germination rate of cocoa seeds decreases at less than 30% moisture content, whereas almost all seeds cannot germinate at less than 15% moisture content. The optimum temperature for fresh seed storage is preferably between 15-25 ℃. The seed germination rate rapidly decreases with storage time when the temperature is too high. Almost all seeds cannot germinate when stored in refrigeration for one day. The cocoa pulp which sticks to the outer layer of seeds should be thoroughly cleaned and the seeds should be sterilized before spawn. Besides, the pots should have a sufficient depth to avoid axle root packing. The nursery pots should be at least 15 cm in depth, preferably more than 30 cm.
Cocoa is native to South America and is now mainly produced in Africa. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) statistics in 2017, the world's cocoa production area exceeded 11.83 million hectares, with the yield about nearly 5.25 million tons. The major countries for cocoa production are Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Brazil. In Taiwan, there are divergent opinions on the cocoa planting area that the planting area is estimated at about 200-300 hectares. In addition, the data indicates that cocoa has been planted in Taiwan since Japanese occupation period. However, the industry gradually declined due to the immature processing technology. Until the 2000s, the fermentation as a key step in cocoa processing was introduced and yielded good quality chocolates in Taiwan Pingtung won the international chocolate competition. In recent years, the special production system of "from trees to chocolate" in Taiwan is different from many temperate countries making fine chocolates from "beans" to bar, making the "Pingtung Cocoa" industry has gradually gain fame at home and abroad.
▲Figure 1. The germination is often inconsistent and the seeds are contaminated by microbial infection when directly seeding or spawn without the clean pulp.
▲Figure 2. Clean seeds and consistent germination rate based on the technology established by TSIPS.