Abstract— The cocoa or cacao tree (Theobroma cacao L.) requires shade to efficiently perform its physiological processes. The objectives of this study were to characterize the shading on cocoa plantations in the Chontalpa region of Tabasco to generate possible pruning and phytosanitary control recommendations, and to measure the PAR in three strata of the cocoa agroecosystems to determine the shade percentage and the amount of PAR intercepted by shade and cocoa trees in the sampled plots. PAR was measured in units of µmol/m2/s using a ceptometer. PAR readings were taken on sunny days in three vertical strata, namely the upper, middle and lower parts, and an average of five readings per stratum were considered for plantations with 1 to 10 acres, and 25 to 30 readings per stratum for plantations greater than 10 hectares. The results for the plantations studied indicate that on average 49.1% of the PAR reaches the cocoa plants and only 10.3% reaches the soil surface. The PAR used by cocoa averaged 620 µmol/cm2/s, which represent only 38.9% of the total incident radiation. The PAR measured in the middle and lower strata of the cocoa plantations has a negative logarithmic effect on the shade percentage and is a reliable indicator for estimating the shade percentage in cocoa plantations. There is a direct relationship between the intercepted PAR or shade percentage and the pruning practices performed by the producer on the cocoa plantations.
Keywords— Cocoa productivity, Photosynthetically active radiation, Shade percentage, Shade trees.
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