Sarah Endline, self proclaimed cacao aficionado, has an amazing tour of a cacao farm on her blog, Sweetriot. The above photo is one example of some great shots Sarah snagged while hanging out at a friends farm in Latin America.
The funny looking football-sized cacao pods (the fruit) actually grow straight out of the trunk! I love visiting farms and seeing real cacao! This time I even had a chance to harvest some pods with the guys pictured here -- check out that large wood stick. The top of it has a sharp blade, so you can cut the cacao pod off of the tree. I successfully pulled down about 5 pods before being replaced by the ‘experts’ as my slow harvesting technique would take days.
You'll see that depending on the variety, beans grown in different colors and sizes. On the trees, there were green and red pods but most would turn to a bright yellow or orange when they were ripe (you can see the piles on the ground of ripe beans.) The pod is split open so you can find the cacao beans inside. On these farms, the ideal tree would produce 60 cacao pods with about 35 beans inside per year. In some cases, you could see a 'great tree' which would produce well above that.
Keep reading at blog.sweetriot.com