Coconut in grown in 93 countries in the world. Indonesia (32.20%) ranks first among the major coconut producing countries followed by Philippines (26.65%) and India (15.91%). India, Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka together account for 78.27% of global coconut production. During 2004–05, in India, the production was 12160 million nuts (19.88% of world) and the productivity was 6337 nuts/ha (1st in the world).
Soil: Red sandy loam, laterite and alluvial soils are suitable. Only heavy soil, lacking drainage facilities is unsuitable.
Planting seasons: June-July, December-January.
Coconut hybrids—VHC-2, VHC-3 (yielding starts from 3.5–4 years);
ECT–for Tanjore, Thiruvarur and Nagai belts–yielding starts from 7.5 years;
WCT–for Kanyakumari and Coimbatore areas–yielding starts from 7.5 years.
Spacing: Adopt a spacing of 25′ × 25′ with 175 plants/ha. For planting in field border as a single row, 20′ spacing between plants may be adopted.
Planting: Pit size should be 3′ × 3′ × 3′. In the pits, Lindane 10% dust may be sprinkled to prevent white ant damage. The pit should be filled to a height of one foot with FYM, red earth and sand mixed in equal proportions. At the centre, the seedling should be planted after removing all the roots. The soil around the nut should be pressed well and the seedling should be provided with shade by using plaited coconut leaves or palmyra leaves.
Water management: In the first year, irrigation is given on alternate days and from the second year, till the time of maturity, irrigation should be given twice a week and afterwards once in 10 days. During summer months and also whenever there is no rain, irrigation is a must, depending upon soil moisture. Coconut requires about 100 l/day/tree through drip irrigation for matured plantation. The coconut husks at about 30 cm depth around the coconut trees at a radius of 1 m and covering it up with earth will conserve soil moisture in light textured soil. Use of coir waste as soil mulch around the tree to a thickness of about 3 cm is also advantageous to conserve soil moisture especially under scarcity condition. Drip irrigation is the best method of irrigation for coconut. Pitcher irrigation under severe water scarce condition (4 pitcher/tree) may be followed.
Manuring: For a five year old palm, 50 kg compost or FYM or green leaves, 1.3 kg urea (560 g N), 2 kg super phosphate (320 g P2O5) and 2 kg muriate of potash (1200 g K2O) should be applied in 1.8 m circular basin, incorporated in soil and the basin is irrigated. Fertilizers may be applied in two doses, once in June – July and the second in December- January. Basal application of FYM (10 kg) + top dressing of NaCl (1 kg) 3 months after planting nuts or FYM + composted coir pith (10 kg) both as basal application is effective for the good growth of seedlings of East Coast Tall Variety. For 2, 3 and 4 years old seedlings, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 doses of the above fertilizer schedule should be applied. Any one of the green manure crops like sunnhemp, wild indigo, calapagonium or daincha may be sown and ploughed in situ at the time of flowering as a substitute to compost applied in trenches. Manuring should be done when there is moisture in the field. The root activity is maximum around a radius of 1.5 m–2 m from the base of the tree. Application of fertilizer to the entire area around the palm is recommended and the fertilizer is forked in. Sufficient moisture should be present when manuring.
Inter-cultural operation: The inter-space in the coconut garden has to be ploughed twice in a year in June-July and December-January. Intercultural operation is essential to keep weed population under check; to ensure the utilization of the applied plant nutrients by the coconut trees; to facilitate proper aeration to the roots of coconut and to induce fresh root growth. Application of 0.5 kg N, 0.5 kg P2O5 and 0.75 kg K2O/palm (Urea 1.1 kg, single super phosphate 3.1 kg, muriate of potash 1.2 kg/palm/year) is found economical for East coast Tall variety.
Inter cropping: During the first five years, groundnut, sesamum, sunflower, tapioca and turmeric can be grown as inter crops. In the shade of the well grown up plantation, cocoa, pineapple, banana and forage crops like desmodium and desmanthus can be raised. In multistoreyed cropping system, banana and pineapple combination with coconut gives higher net returns per unit area.
Pests and Diseases
(i) Rhinoceros beetle
• Remove and burn all dead coconut trees in the garden (which are likely to serve as good breeding ground) to maintain good sanitation. Collect and destroy the various bio-stages of the beetle from the manure pits (breeding ground of the pest) whenever manure is lifted from the pits. Incorporate the entomopathogen i.e., fungus (Metarhizium anisopliae) in manure pits to check the perpetuation of the pest.
• Soak castor cake at 1 kg in 5 l of water in small mud pots and keep them in the coconut gardens to attract and kill the adults.
• Treat the longitudinally split tender coconut stem and green petiole of fronds with fresh toddy and keep them in the garden to attract and trap the beetles. Examine the crowns of tree at every harvest and hook out and kill the adults.
• For seedlings, apply 3 number of naphthalene balls/palm weighing 3.5 g each) at the base of interspace in leaf sheath in the 3 inner most leaves of the crown once in 45 days.
• Set up light traps following the first rains in summer and monsoon period to attract and kill the adult beetles.
• Field release of Baculovirus inoculated adult rhinoceros beetle reduces the leaf and crown damage caused by this beetle.
• Mixture of either neem seed powder + sand (1:2) @150 g per palm or Neem Seed Kernel powder + Sand (1:2) @150 g per palm applied in the base of the 3 inner most leaves in the crown effectively controlled rhinoceros beetle damage.
Special Problems in Coconut
1. Rejuvenation of existing garden: The low yield in vast majority of gardens is due to thick population, lack of manuring and irrigation. These gardens could be improved if the following measures are taken.
(i) Thinning of thickly populated gardens: In the farmer’s holdings, 41 per cent of the trees give a yield of less than 20 nuts/palm/year. By cutting and removal of these trees, the yield could be increased by 1750 nuts/ha. Besides, there is saving in the cost of cultivation and increase in net profit to the tune of Rs. 2000/ha. After removal of low yielding trees, the populations should be maintained at 175–200 palms/ha.
(ii) Ensuring adequate manuring and irrigation: Research results have shown that the yield of coconut palms could be increased by 23 nuts/palms/year by applying the manurial schedule of 50 kg of FYM or green leaf plus NPK at 560, 320, 1200 g/palm. When irrigation at 10 days interval is also given during summer months in addition to manuring, the yield increase was 44 nuts/palm and when all these were combined (manuring + irrigation + cultural practices), the yield increase was 67 nuts/tree over control.
2. Button shedding: Shedding of buttons and premature nuts may be due to any one of the following reasons:
• Excess acidity or alkalinity
• Lack of drainage
• Severe drought
• Genetic causes
• Lack of nutrients
• Lack of pollination
• Hormone deficiency
• Pests and diseases
The following remedial measures are suggested:
(a) Rectification of soil pH: Excess acidity or alkalinity of soil may cause button shedding. If the soil pH is less than 5.5, it is an indication of excess acidity. This could be rectified by adding lime. Increase in alkalinity is indicated by soil pH higher than 8.0. This situation could be rectified by adding gypsum.
(b) Providing adequate drainage facilities: Lack of drainage results in the roots of coconut trees getting suffocated for want of aeration. Shedding of buttons occur under such condition. Drainage channels have to be dug along the contours to drain the excess water during rainy season.
(c) Burial of coconut husk or coir waste: Severe drought condition and lack of irrigation during summer result in button shedding. To rectify the situation coconut husks may be buried @ 100 husks with concave surface facing upwards or 25 kg of coir waste in semi circular trenches, dug to one foot width and two feet depth at 1.5 m radius. This may be applied at the bottom and the usual manures and fertilizers applied above this layer, when there is moisture in the soil. The monsoon rains are preserved by the soaking of the coconut husk or coir waste as the case may be. Besides decomposition, of these materials provide addition of potash to the coconut.
(d) Genetic causes: In some trees, button shedding may persist even after ensuring adequate crop pest and disease management. This is an indication of inherent defect of the mother palm from which the seed material was obtained. This underlines the need for proper choice of superior mother palm for harvesting seed coconut to ensure uniformly good yielding trees.
(e) Lack of nutrition: Button shedding occurs due to inadequate or lack of manuring. The recommended dose of manurial schedules and proper time of application are important to minimize the button shedding. Apply extra 2 kg of K2O with 200 g of Borax/palm over and above the usual dosage of fertilizer to correct the barren nuts in coconut.
(f) Lack of pollination: Button shedding also occurs due to lack of pollination. Setting up of bee hives at 15 units per ha may increase the cross-pollination in the garden. Further the additional income obtained through honey, increases the net profit per unit area.
(g) Hormone deficiency: The fertilized female flowers shed in some cases. By spraying 2–4 D at 30 ppm, the setting percentage could be increased to 32.5 per cent as against 25 per cent in the control. The chemical 2–4 D may be mixed at 30 mg per litre of water and sprayed one month after opening of the spathe using micro sprayer.
(h) Pests: Button shedding may happen due to the attack of bug. Spraying of systemic insecticides like Methyldemeton 0.025% or Dimethoate 0.03% may reduce the occurrence. IPM for red palm weevil: The dead palm has to be disposed off and the stump burnt. The garden should be kept clean. Root feeding of Monocrotophos @ 10 ml + 10 ml of water/palm given with due precaution, viz., (i) Harvest and nuts before root feeding and subsequent harvests done 45 days after root feeding and (ii) irrigation has to be given to root fed palms only after a week (or) Apply 1–2 Aluminium phosphide tablets in the bore holes and plug it immediately with moist cement and Fytolan.
(i) Diseases: Button shedding also occurs due to disease incidence such as Thanjavur wilt. Adoption of control measures suggested for the disease reduces not only spread of the disease but also prevents shedding of buttons.
Management of thanjavur wilt of coconut: The management practices for the disease will be effective, only if they are adopted in the early stage of the disease i.e., as soon as bleeding symptoms are noticed. In sandy soil, organic matter status of the soil has to be improved. For this, green manure crops may be raised and ploughed in situ or well-decomposed farm yard manure at 50 kg per palm has to be applied every year. Only if organic manures are applied, the fungicides will be effective. Bordeaux mixture (1%) drenching should not be done in summer months especially during March, April, and May. When Bordeaux mixture drenching and root feeding of Calixin or Aureofungin-sol + Copper sulphate are done, the palms should be irrigated only after 4–5 days. For Bordeaux mixture drenching, the soil should be completely dry. Then only 40 litres solution will be required to drench at least 4–5″ depth of soil. Latest method of application for Aureofungin-sol is root feeding (2 g Aureofungin sol + 1 g copper sulphate in 100 ml of water) and not stem injection. Neem cake (5 kg) also should be applied to diseased trees every year. Neem cake application should not be combined with Bordeaux mixture drenching. There should be at least one-month interval between neem cake application and Bordeaux mixture drenching. If the above precautions are carefully followed and the integrated control measure of organic manure application, cultural practices (summer irrigation) and fungicides application are adopted Thanjavur wilt in coconut can be kept under check.
Coconut nursery management: The seed for collecting seed materials from high yielding coconut palms can hardly be over emphasized in a perennial crop like coconut.
The following points may be remembered:
• Select seed gardens, which contain large proportion of high yielding trees with uniformity in yielding ability.
• High yielding mother palms giving not less than 100 nuts/palm/annum should be chosen for collecting seed nuts. Alternate bearers should be avoided. The age of the palm chosen be middle age i.e., from 25 to 40 years. Even trees with 15 years age can be selected, if it is high yielding and has stabilized yield.
- Basics of Silviculture
- Agriculture History of India
- Silvicultural System of Concentrated Regeneration
- Coppice System of Silviculture
- Branches of Horticulture