Changing chocolate for good

Grafting onto rootstock

Nick Johns-WickbergComment

Early xmas shopping? use this gift code, valid until 7th November

10% off any purchase from chocolution: 7UA7GTD


Hope this finds you well.

Further to the last couple of posts on the threat posed by hybrid varieties of cacao this post explains how grafting cacao onto root stock works.

First some definitions;

Heirloom cacao;

  • Heirloom cacao are the diamonds of cacao.

  • Cacao trees and beans endowed with a combination of historic, cultural, botanical, geographical, and most importantly flavor value.

  • They are the foundation of the best tasting chocolate.

Hybrid cacao;

  • CCN51 Designed for high productivity & to combat Mal del Machete wilt, a tree disease caused by the fungus Ceratocystis fimbriata.

  • Despite perceived benefits

    • large pods with heavy average seed weight after only 2 years planting,

    • yield potential & productive efficiency of 1 ton per hactare that increase to 3 tons under intensive agronomic management,

    • low pH),

  • CCN-51 requires a lot of work.

    • A day or so to harvest

    • 6 to 7 or more days in the fermentary due to a higher amount of mucilage that requires longer fermentation

    • drying

  • The whole process can last up to 10+ days, increasing a grower’s exposure to theft.


How grafting onto rootstock works;

  • A rootstock is part of a plant, often an underground part, from which new above-ground growth can be produced.

  • In grafting, it refers to a plant, sometimes just a stump, which already has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting or a bud from another plant is grafted.

  • The plant part grafted onto the rootstock is usually called the scion.

  • The scion is the plant that has the properties that propagator desires above ground.

  • The rootstock is selected for its interaction with the soil, providing the roots and the stem to support the new plant, obtaining the necessary soil water and minerals, and resisting the relevant pests and diseases.

  • After a few weeks the tissues of the two parts will have grown together, eventually forming a single plant.


Video on grafting cacao (Spanish)


Hope you have learned something about the role of grafting in cacao production.

Viva la chocolution.



Early xmas shopping use this gift code, valid until 7th November

10% off any purchase from chocolution: 7UA7GTD


Saving heirloom varieties of Cacao 2/2

Nick Johns-WickbergComment

Further to last post, more here on the specifics of saving heirloom varieties of cacao through buying craft chocolate, told thorugh the lens of . . . canvendish banana!

First a word from our man in Peru! Jake Lawy

"Tarapoto is a main cacao processing hub in the Peruvian Amazon. In the regions around Taraporto there is a shift in the varieties of cacao being farmed. The cacao farmers are shifting from older heirloom varieties to a modern hybrid CCN 15. The main rason for this shift being CCN 15 is more productive, however it does not produce as high a quality cacao as native heirloom cacao". Jake Lawy (Iquitos, Peru)

The economic drivers increasing yield at the expense of diverstiy is being replicated in any food system you care to look at. BBC R4's food programme recently highlighted how the same issue is negatively affecting global bannana production. The Guardian recently covered this growing problem.

The cavendish which makes up 99%(globally) of banannas grown for export, is threatened from fungal infections whioh spread rapidly due to the massive plantations of homogenous crops. This leads to increased spraying, increased resistance in fungi, followed by degredation of the soils and ecosystems in the plantations. 

As informed consumers we have the opportunity to make choices at the till which positively impact on where we as a species is heading.

Choosing, increased diversity and choice in the food you buy is choosing to protect our planet . . . resilience thorugh diversity.

Choose wisely.

Viva la chocolution.