VALENTINE’S DAY!!! You can smell chocolate in the air—do you ever wonder about the origins of the chocolate you are enjoying?
All chocolate begins with cocoa beans, the fruit of the cacao tree (also called a cocoa tree). Cocoa trees grow only in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, South America and Central America, within 15 to 20 degrees of the equator. These regions are best for the cocoa trees to survive because the trees require constant warmth and rainfall to thrive. These regions usually have rainfall of 45 to 200 inches of rain per year. Another key factor for the cocoa trees to flourish is a rich, volcanic soil which is found in these regions. The trees also need to be grown in the shade of other trees to protect them from direct sunlight and are sheltered from the wind. Cocoa trees can produce fruit for 75 to 100 years or more.
Happy Valentine’s Day—here’s to another successful year of growing cocoa trees!