Jeff Stern

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Ecuador's Super Cacao

user image 2011-03-28
By: Jeff Stern
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One of the interesting programs going on here involves what growers and organizations are calling "super cacao." Turns out that on most if not all cocoa farms, there always happens to be a few trees that have superior yields and greater disease resistance than all the rest.

At first, I had no idea what people were talking about-shortly thereafter, I realized that I knew the two North American landowners who were actually pioneering this effort. They began by identifying and then collecting (I'm not sure if it's one or the other or both-but either way) seeds or grafting material from the most productive, disease-resistant trees from growers around the country. They made sure the material they collected was from Nacional variety plants, not CCN-51. They then went and propagated and planted several hectares from this "super cacao" material, and have had yields far above average, way over CCN-51, which already yields 3-4x what Nacional plants can yield per hectare.

I later learned that a local NGO, Conservacion y Desarrollo, is also closely involved with this effort, working with thousands of farmers throughout Ecuador in an effort to identify and propagate seedlings from the highest yielding plants, to help farmers increase their yields.

If you wish to know more, check out some of the videos here or contact me directly.


Jeff Stern
05/22/13 08:21:37 @jeff-stern:

Yes, Sacha Gold-Jeff Sheedy and George Loquavam, don't know BK Matlick. Actually, rumor has it now that this is a variety of cacao perhaps from Colombia. Have heard both positive and negative comments on the beans, and haven't yet tasted a chocolate made from them.

Gifford Laube
05/22/13 08:06:24 @gifford-laube:

Are these the Sacha Gold trees? Is this BK Matlick's project?

Jeff Stern
03/30/11 09:26:39 @jeff-stern:
Thanks for the clarification-I thought it was through propagation as well but wasn't sure. I believe they did most with grafting.
Mark Guiltinan
03/30/11 09:20:22 @mark-guiltinan:
I have heard that term used in Ecuador too. It is a great idea to work with farmers to identify elite trees (farmer participatory selection in plant breeder terms). Individual plants with elite traits must be propagated vegetatively to retain the mother tree traits. Grafting, rooted cuttings are the main methods. Tissue culture is also possible. Seeds will not work due to genetic segregation until breeders can generate more homozygous breeding stock. Not easy.