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"The genus Theobroma originated millions of years ago in South America, to the east of the Andes. Theobroma has been divided into twenty-two species of which T. cacao is the most widely known. It was the Maya who provided tangible evidence of cacao as a domesticated crop. Archaeological evidence in Costa Rica indicates that cacao was drunk by Maya traders as early as 400 BC. The Aztec culture, dominant in Mesoamerica from the fourteenth century to the Conquest, placed much emphasis on the sanctity of cacao.
The first outsider to drink chocolate was Christopher Columbus, who reached Nicaragua in 1502 searching for a sea route to the spices of the East. But it was Hernan Cortés, leader of an expedition in 1519 to the Aztec empire, who returned to Spain in 1528 bearing the Aztec recipe for xocoatl (chocolate drink) with him. The drink was initially received unenthusiastically and it was not until sugar was added that it became a popular drink in the Spanish courts.
Cocoa needs a soil containing coarse particles and with a reasonable quantity of nutrients, to a depth of 1.5m to allow the development of a good root system. Below that level it is desirable not to have impermeable material, so that excess water can drain away. Cocoa will withstand waterlogging for short periods, but excess water should not linger. The cocoa tree is sensitive to a lack of water, so the soil must have both water retention properties and good drainage.
Variations in the yield of cocoa trees from year to year are affected more by rainfall than by any other climatic factor. Trees are very sensitive to a soil water deficiency. Rainfall should be plentiful and well distributed through the year. An annual rainfall level of between 1,500mm and 2,000mm is generally preferred. Dry spells, where rainfall is less than 100mm per month, should not exceed three months. The cocoa tree will make optimum use of any light available and traditionally has been grown under shade. Its natural environment is the Amazonian forest which provides natural shade trees. Shading is indispensable in a cocoa tree's early years."
Source: ICCO (2013) https://www.icco.org/about-cocoa/growing-cocoa.html