The home of coconut might have been somewhere in south East Asia, most probably in Malaysia or Indonesia. It moved eastwards to the Pacific region, and further to America. In Pakistan it is cultivated Coconut is mostly grown in coastal areas of Sindh and Baluchistan.
Soil and Climate:
Coconut palm thrives in almost all types of well drained soils such as coastal sand, red loam, laterals alluvial and reclaimed soils of marshy low lands. Though it is mainly grown in the coastal plains it is possible to grown even at elevation of 600 to 900 m above M.S.L. in areas near the equator where the temperature remains favorable. Among the climatic factors affecting the palm, rainfall is the most important. A rainfall of 1000 to 2250 mm per annum evenly distributed throughout the year appears to be most congenial. Regions with long and pronounced dry spells are not suited to its growth. Coconut palm requires equable climate neither very hot not very cold. The maximum mean annual temp, for good growth is about 27°C with a diurnal venation of about 6° to 7°. Persistent high humidity is harmful and incidence of bud rot is more under such a conditions. The palm requires bright, sunshine of about 2000 hours a year.
Planting Material (Propagation):
Since, it is a cross-pollinated crop which is propagated only by seeds, the selection of planting material is of vital, importance selection has to be made at the mother palm level and at the seedling stage. The mother palm should be between age group of 25 to 60 years, should be healthy, high yielding and regular in bearing. Immature arid under-developed seed nuts should not be used. The selection of seedlings at nursery stage is also important. Generally nuts harvested from January to April are used for raising seedlings. The seedlings should be:
- Should have minimum of 5 to 6 leaves when they are one year old.
- The leaves should have been splited.
- The girth of seedling at collar region should be more .
- Should have 5 to 6 roots.
Preparation of Land and Transplanting
The depth of pit depends on soil type in sand loam soil pits of 1 x 1 x 1m is generally recommended. In laterite soils, the pits of 1.2% 1.2 x 1.2 M are necessary. The pits are taken at the distance of 7.5 to 9 M apart thus accommodating 177 to 124 palm/ha. The-planting is done by square system, deep planting method is adopted. It is good practice to spread two layers of coconut husk at the bottom of the pits in areas where drought conditions prevail The seedling is placed at the center of the pit in such a way that the top of the husk is just visible from outside. The earth is well pressed down in order to keep the seedling firmly in position. In well-drained soil where water stagnation is not a problem transplanting is done at the beginning of the monsoon. In low lying areas planting is done after monsoon. The transplanted, seedlings should be shaded and irrigated properly during summer. Irrigation with 45 litres of water once in four days has been found to be the optimum especially in sandy soils.
Manure Fertilization and Intercropping:
Application of fertilizers in general reduces the prehearing age of palms. They generally start bearing at the age of five or Seven years after planting and the stabilized yield is obtained from 10th year onward till the age of 60 years. Regular intercropping and manuring is essential – for stepping up and maintaining the productivity of palm. Tillage including digging, ploughing the interspaces, making shallow basins with a radius of 2m and applying fertilizer. The proper recommended an annual application of following nutrients/palm/year.
Application of the annual dose of fertilizers in two or more splits had been found highly beneficial in increasing the yield and quality of nut. To obtain higher efficiency in the uptake of nutrients of fertilizers are to be applied in circular basis 20 to 25 cm deep and 1.5 to 1.8 m radius round the base of the palm.
Production of Barren Nuts
The phenomenon of the occurrence of barren nuts (without or with imperfectly developed Kernel) is very old. Only certain trees in the coconut plantation produce large number of barren nuts. The nuts are generally oblong in shape and quantity of husk produce is very much less as compared to normal, nut. The embryo in the barren nut is mostly absent or when present. It is in varying stage of decay. Fungal infection is also sometime noticed in the embryo resulting in the decay of the kernel and loss of water inside. In the barren nut cracking of shell is relatively more common. Several causes for the phenomenon have been reported:
- Due to defective fertilization resulting in malformation of embryo.
- Nutritional deficiency in the palm.
- Excessive bearing.
Maturity Signs of Coconut:
- Coconut usually matures in about 350 to 375 days after appearance of the inflorescence.
- Colour of fruit changes from green to yellowish or brownish green.
- The fruit produces peculiar metabolic sound on thumping.
- All nuts in a bunch mature at the same time and uniformity.