Agroforestry systems of timber species and cacao: survival and growth during the early stages

Ramón E. Jaimez, Osmary Araque, Danni Guzman, Argenis Mora, Wilmer Espinoza, Wilmer Tezara


In recent times, increased emphasis has been placed on diversifying the types of trees to shade cacao (Theobroma
cacao L.) and to achieve additional services. Agroforestry systems that include profitable and native timber trees are a viable alternative but it is necessary to understand the growth characteristics of these species under different environmental conditions. Thus, timber tree species selection should be based on plant responses to biotic and abiotic factors. The aims of this study were (1) to evaluate growth rates and leaf area indices of the four commercial timber species: Cordia thaisiana, Cedrela odorata, Swietenia macrophylla and Tabebuia rosea in conjunction with incidence of insect attacks and (2) to compare growth rates of four Venezuelan Criollo cacao cultivars planted under the shade of these four timber species during the first 36 months after establishment. Parameters monitored in timber trees were: survival rates, growth rates expressed as height and diameter at breast height and leaf area index. In the four Cacao cultivars: height and basal diameter. C. thaisiana and C. odorata had the fastest growth and the highest survival rates. Growth rates of timber trees will depend on their susceptibility to insect attacks as well as to total leaf area. All cacao cultivars showed higher growth rates under the shade of C. odorata. Growth rates of timber trees and cacao cultivars suggest that combinations of cacao and timber trees are a feasible agroforestry strategy in Venezuela.


tree growth and survival; insect attack; intercropping; criollo cacao; timber tree

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