Guide on how to start a coconut plantation. This article is on how to start a coconut plantation. A member of the palm tree family the coconut fruit has high commercial value. It is used in many culinary and food applications.
The tree is tough, rugged and can live 80 to 100 years. It takes several years to grow into full adulthood and produces all year round. The palm is common to subtropical, tropical regions and requires abundant water to grow.
Top Producers of Coconut Palm
The top producers of coconut palm are Indonesia and Philippines. Others are India, Brazil and Sri Lanka. Others are Maldives, Malaysia, Middle East, United States and Australia.
- Sri Lanka
The tree grows an impressive 95ft tall. However there are dwarf verities in some geographical areas. The large palm has pinnate leaves 5m long. It takes 6 years to mature and they produce 60 to 100 fruits a year.
The coconut fruit is a drupe and consist of an endosperm and three layers that consist of endocarp, mesocarp and exocap. The average coconut weighs about 3ibs and shell consists of 3 germination spores.
The roots consists of a fibrous system that offer good support for the tree. The roots penetrate deep into the soil providing a rigid support against wind and erosion. The palm is monoecious with both male and female flowers.
How to Start a Coconut Plantation
There are different coconut fruit types based on geographical location. We have the Coir Board of India, hybrid, green coconut.
Others are red coconut, yellow coconut and red/green mix. Verities are the dwarf orange, dwarf yellow golden Malay coconut. Others include Fiji dwarf, Maypan, Nawassi, Green Malay and King coconut.
Coconut Fruit Type
- Green coconut.
- Red coconut
- Yellow coconut
- Red/green mix
- Dwarf orange
- Dwarf yellow
- Golden Malay coconut
- Fiji dwarf
- Green Malay
- King coconut
Uses of Coconut
The hard shell is used as charcoal and fibrous husk ideal to make fire. Other are coconut juice, coconut milk, applied in cosmetic products and soaps. Leaves are ideal for furniture manufacture and white inner flesh edible raw.
It is found in personal hygiene products, liquid soap, shampoos, antiseptic and cleansers. Farmers make animal shelters with the leaves and coconut meal to feed livestock.
Coconut is used in ritual Hindu tradition. Traditional medicine for dysentery, diarrhea. The truck is used as timber in building construction.
Uses of Coconut Palm
- Fibrous husk ideal to make fire
- Coconut juice
- Coconut milk
- Cosmetic products
- Personal hygiene products
- Liquid soap
- Animal shelters
- Coconut meal to feed livestock.
- Tradition rituals
- Traditional medicine
- Building construction
Pests and Diseases
Common pests are armyworms, larvae of moths and butterflies. Others are coconut mite, red palm weevil, caterpillar and rhinoceros beetle.
Diseases include root disease, stem bleeding, lethal yellowing, phytoplasma and bud rot. Symptoms of bud rot are yellowing of young leaves, slimy leaf base. Common control measures include removal of affected leaves, spraying of 1% Bordeaux mix, cutting and burning affected palm.
Symptoms of leaf rot are shriveled distal ends of leaves, blackening decline in yield. Control measures include proper application of manure, removal of decay area, application of fungicide solution, spraying of phorate mix.
Pests and Diseases that Affect Coconut Palm
- Red Palm Weevil
- Black headed Caterpillar
- Coreid Bug
- Mealy Bugs
- Scale Insects
- White Grub
- Eriophid Mite
- Bud Rot
- Leaf Rot
- Stem Bleeding
- Root Wilt
Ideal growth condition is annual rainfall above 1500mm, temperature 12.5C and direct sun. The tree is tolerant to salinity and grows easily in sandy soil. That is why coconut grows abundantly along tropical shorelines.
It requires an average rainfall is 1500 to 2400 mm annually, and high humidity. However some types can grow in areas with humid climate and low rainfall. The tree is hardy and tolerate cold temperatures not exceeding 5 to 12 C.
- Tropical Climate
- Rainfall 1500 to 2400 annually
- Temperature 13C
- Direct Sun
- Partial Shade
- Sandy Soil
The planting material are seedlings 1 year old. Make sure the seedlings have at least 8 leaves/11cm collar girth.
The choice of cultivar include tall, dwarf or hybrid. Other considerations are soil type, geographical location of farm, climatic condition and annual rainfall.
Proper site selection is important to the success of the plantation. Avoid areas with stagnate water, hard rock underlay, shallow soil. The next step is to prepare the land for planting.
Make sure you apply proper spacing and system planting for higher yield. The best time to plant is before south west monsoon.
To transplant seeding’s make sure they are properly established before the rains. Dig a pit and fill with cow dung and top soil. Place the seedlings nut and fill with soil.
Make sure the soil does not retail water and use coconut husk to preserve moisture content. Use staking to protect seedling, irrigate during dry season and provide shade for seedlings.
Application of Manure
To achieve high productivity it is essential applying manure first planting season. The organic manure should not exceed 50kg per palm annually. Common organic manure are blood meal, bone meal, farm waste, groundnut cake and compost.
The age of the palm determines the nutrient dosage, ammo-sulphate, urea, phosphate and potash content. To increase organic matter use cover crops or green manure.
Other consideration in application of manure include irrigation condition, rainfall condition or palm hybrid. Some farmers use coconut husk burial technique around the palm tree. Mixed farming is also beneficial with the introduction of few cattle and fodder grass.
Areas with low rainfall should consider irrigation. The farmer needs to take into consideration soil type, palm type and weather condition.
An adult palm requires an average of 700 liters of water once a week. Irrigation is only applicable to matured established plant of 2 years and above. Use drip irrigation technique and apply sea water if available.
Coconut fall naturally when they are ready however farmers can harvest them by hand. They have long shelf-live but rapidly depreciates once the shell is cracked open.