The Cacao Bean
How cacao beans are grown
Cacao is not an easy plant to grow. To grow cacao, you need a hot, rainy climate in an area that can not be more than 35-40 degrees north or south of the equator. This area is called the Tropics. Though it needs warm temperatures to thrive, it must be shaded from direct sun, and grows best under taller trees. In the tropical rain forest, Cacao grows in the understory with shorter trees and vines .
The tree, Theobrama cacao, grows little white or pink flowers all over the trunk and branches. Then little flies called Midge flies (Smidge) pollinate the flowers. The Midge flies live in mud in order to breath. There is a type of hog that makes this mud that Smidge and other Midge flies live in. The hogs are called Bores. When Cacao pods are ripe they can be many different colors like…Red, yellow, orange, or green. When the cacao beans are ready to be harvested, they are usually a reddish brown.
The cacao pod is hard but fragile.
Cacao Pods are very fragile so each pod must be picked by hand. Workers cut the pod off of the tree with a large knife, slice it open and scoop out the beans. It takes hours of manual labor to pick enough pods to make a big pile of cacao beans. Each pod contains about twenty to sixty seeds. The number of beans in a pod depends on the type of cacao it is. The seeds are all covered in a white sticky material called musilage. Musilage is also known as pulp. After harvesting the beans, they must be laid out to dry in the sun. This dries them out which is called fermentation.(Pherr-man-tate-tion)Then, when they’re all nice and dry, the people who harvested them, bag them and ship the beans off to a factory where processing begins.
HOW CACAO IS SHIPPED!
When orders for cacao come in they are filled. Bags full of cacao beans are put into wooden boxes or crates for safe shipping. This protects the burlap bags and the beans that are inside. Then the wooden boxes are lifted onto a boat, train or ship. Sometimes beans can be carried by airplanes too. The big machine that lifts the boxes onto a ship at the dock is called a crane. Cacao can be shipped all over the world. It might take a long time to get the cacao to the place you want to shipped, because the ship is big and heavy and the oceans are big too!