The effects of plantain shade and dry season irrigation was examined on the growth, canopy dynamics, flowering and pod production of cacao in the Experimental Station of the Department of Crop, Soil and Pest Management, Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria. The 2 x 2 factorial combinations of unshaded (open sun) and shaded and irrigation intervals (5-day and 10-days)) were arranged in split-plot design. Shade regime constituted the main plot while irrigation intervals were the sub-plot treatments. The non-irrigated but shaded control had higher dry season branch and twig die back and lower pod yields. Shade-irrigation combinations enhanced leaf area (LAI), photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) and pod yield, and reduced tree death, branch and twig die back. Compared with shaded, the unshaded had larger LAI, profuse flowers and pod and bean yields. The unshaded (open sun) cacao combined with 5-day irrigation had enhanced growth, flowering and pod yields of cacao compared with the shade-irrigation. The 5- day irrigation produced higher LAI, trees bearing flowers and pods, and pod and bean yields compared with the 10-day interval. The shade-irrigation strategy adopted ameliorated dry season hydrothermal stresses, and is recommended as veritable for cacao farmers of the humid tropics.
Keywords: Changing weather, drought, temperature, adaptation, tropics, fruit trees, livelihood