How Many Cocoa Trees Grow on One Acre of Land?

Question: How Many Cocoa Trees Grow on One Acre of Land?

The question of how many cocoa trees grow on one acre of land is a complicated one, because so much depends on the land. Is the soil good for growing cocoa trees, or is it less than optimal? If the latter, you won’t be able to grow as many cocoa trees per acre as you would on the right kind of soil. Are the temperature, humidity levels, and rainfall good for cocoa tree growth? Again, if they are not, you’ll be able to support fewer cocoa trees per acre (and your yield will probably be less).

In most countries where cocoa trees grow, land is measured not in acres but in hectares. A hectare is ten thousand square meters (imagine a square that’s 100 meters, or 328.08 feet, per side). One hectare is roughly 2.47 acres. Plantations in cocoa-producing countries typically have 1,000 to 1,200 cocoa trees growing per hectare; that works out to an average of somewhere between 400 and 485 cocoa trees that grow per acre of land.

How many cocoa trees grow on one acre of land also depends on the variety of cocoa grown. For example, criollo and trinitario cocoa trees, the sources of the finest cocoa and therefore, the finest chocolate, require taller shade trees to protect them. Because of this, not as many cocoa trees can grow on an acre of land compared to, say, CCN-51.

CCN-51 is a hybrid variety of cocoa. It is highly productive—so much so that many of the world’s largest chocolate companies urge farmers to grow CCN-51 on their land. With CCN-51, shade trees are not required (although the trees provide shade for each other to a degree) and the cocoa trees are densely packed on the farmer’s land. What’s wrong with that, you ask? Because of their need for shade, criollo and trinitario trees help preserve the “wildness” of the land, local biodiversity, and the wildlife in the area. On the other hand, because of its prolific nature, CCN-51 rapidly depletes the farm’s soil, endangering the farm’s sustainability and threatening both biodiversity and the survival of wildlife in the area. Note that as a policy here at Amano Artisan Chocolate, we will not process CCN-51 or similar hybrids; virtually all of the cocoa we use is criollo and trinitario.