The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera Linn.) is supposed to be one of the five legendary Devavrikshas and is eulogised as Kalpavriksha - the all giving tree - in Indian classics. All parts of the palm are used in someway or another in the daily life of the people of the west coast; the traditional coconut growing area. Its fruit is called Lakshmi Phai and is used in social and religious functions in India irrespective of whether palm is locally grown or not.
|Year||Area (Million Hectare)||Production ('00 Million Nuts)||Productivity (Nuts/Ha)|
Coconut is grown in more than 86 countries worldwide, with a total production of 54 billion nuts per annum. India occupies the premier position in the world with an annual production of 13 billion nuts, overtaking Indonesia and the Philippines, the other two prominent coconut-growing countries.
The coconut palm is a versatile tree crop; no other tree crop grown can match coconut palm in its versatility. It provides nutritious food and a refreshing drink, oil for edible and non-edible uses, fibre of commercial value, shell for fuel and industrial uses, thatch, an alcoholic beverage, timber and a variety of miscellaneous products for use as domestic fuel. The palm is amenable to both plantation and homestead management and it can be either a major crop or a minor one in a homestead garden of mixed crops. While responding favourably to scientific management, the palm also tolerates negligent farming to a certain extent. Thus, it can adapt to the divergent farming situations and management practices that are prevalent in the different agro-climatic regions.
The coconut palm exerts a profound influence on the rural economy of the many states where it is grown extensively and it provides sustenance to more than 10 million people. The export earnings derived by India from coconut are around Rs. 3000 million, mainly through the export trade in coir and coir goods. The processing and related activities centered on the crop generate employment opportunities for over two million people in India. The contribution of coconut oil to the national edible oil pool is 6 %. In addition, the crop contributes Rs. 7000 crores annually to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is no wonder coconut culture is spreading even to non-traditional belts that were, until recently, considered unsuitable for the purpose.
In India, coconut is cultivated mainly in the coastal tracts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Pondicherry, and Maharashtra and in the islands of Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar. Of late, coconut cultivation has been introduced to suitable locations in non-traditional states including Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tripura, Manipur, and Arunachal Pradesh and in the hinterland regions of the coconut growing states .
Kerala is the main coconut growing state with an area of 10.20 lakh hectares and production of 5911 million nuts, followed by Tamil Nadu (3.20 lakh hectares and 3716 million nuts), Karnataka (2.87 lakh hectares and 1493 million nuts) and Andhra Pradesh (0.95 lakh hectares and 780 million nuts). These four southern states together account for 90.8 % of the total production in the country.
In productivity too, India ranks number one among other coconut growing countries in the world. The average productivity of coconut in the country is 6898 nuts per ha. Among the four major coconut growing states, Tamil Nadu has the highest productivity (11620 nuts/ha), Andhra Pradesh has a productivity of 8296 nuts/ha, followed by Kerala (5793 nuts/ha) and Karnataka (5204 nuts/ha).
There are mainly two varieties of coconut: Tall and dwarf. In addition, hybrids of various combinations have also evolved. The tall cultivar is extensively grown throughout India, while the dwarf is grown mainly for parent material in hybrid seed production and for tender coconuts. The tall cultivar generally grown along the west coast is called West Coast Tall, and the cultivar grown along the east coast is called East Coast Tall.
Benaulim is the tall variety grown in Goa and coastal Maharashtra. Laccadive Ordinary, Laccadive Micro, Tiptur Tall, Kappadam, Komadan and Andartian Ordinary are some of the tall varieties grown in the country and Chowghat Dwarf Orange, Chowghat Dwarf Green, Malayan Yellow Dwarf and Malayan Orange Dwarf are some of the dwarf cultivars grown in India. Gangabondam is a dwarf type grown in certain tracts of Andhra Pradesh. Many hybrid combinations of tall and dwarf cultivars that have evolved are also grown in the country.
Coconut possesses the unique characteristic of allowing any crop combination in the inter-spaces. A well-spaced coconut garden provides adequate inter-spaces where it is possible to grow a variety of crops, both seasonal and perennial. When annuals or seasonal crops are grown in coconut holdings it is designated as inter-cropping; when perennials are grown it is called mix cropping. A combination of inter-crops and mixed crops raised together are referred to as a multi-storied cropping system.
(In '000 Hectare)
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|Andaman & Nicobar
In widely spaced gardens the shade from the coconut palms is not intense enough to prevent the growth of other crops. During the pre-bearing period, especially up to three years after planting, the entire area could be made use of because of the negligible shade effect. As the palms grow there is a progressive increase in the shade coverage produced by the crown for up to 20 years. Depending on the age of the palms and canopy coverage suitable crops, or a combination of crops, could be selected for growing in the gardens. The common inter-crops that could be grown during the pre-bearing or the early stages of the growth of the palms are pineapple, banana, groundnut, chillies, tapioca, sweat potato and other root crops. In addition, cocoa, pepper, cashew, fruit trees could be grown as mix crops.
Coconut crops are susceptible to various diseases and pest attack. The major pests to coconut in India are rhinoceros beetle, red palm weevil, leaf-eating caterpillar and rats and the major diseases are root wilt, thanjavur wilt/ganoderma, tatipaka, bud rot, leaf rot, stem bleeding and crown chocking. Of these, root wilt, prevalent in Kerala, is a century old disease. Effective control measures are yet to be developed for root wilt disease in Kerala; thanjavur wilt/ganodarma disease in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka; and tatipaka disease in Andhra Pradesh. However, the diseases can be kept under control by adopting the recommended package of practices.
Of the total production of coconuts, about 5 % is consumed in the tender form for drinking purposes. The rest is utilized as mature nuts for household and religious purposes and for the production of edible copra, milling copra and desiccated coconut. Coconut oil production in the country is nearly 4.5 lakh tonnes. Of this 40 % is consumed for edible purposes, 46 % for toiletry uses and 14 % for industrial uses.
Coconut development programmes in India are mainly carried out by the Coconut Development Board, which was established in 1981. The board's schemes are either implemented directly or through the Department of Agriculture/Horticulture of the states and union territories. The state government also implements their own programmes to suit the local needs. The board functions under the administrative control of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India with the Chairman as the chief executive. The Coconut Development Board Headquarters is in Kochi in the state of Kerala and in order to implement and monitor various developmental projects, the board has established field offices in various parts of the country.
To conclude, coconut is a crop with unique features. Owing to its versatile uses, the demand for coconut and its products has been on the increase. The crop is spreading fast even to the interior tracts and the north and northeastern parts of the country gaining national acceptance. Having already attained the premier position in the world, India's thrust now shall be to exploit the wealth potential of the crop in all respects. Moreover coconut is an eco friendly crop which permits coexistence of multi-species plants. It enriches soil fertility in association with other crops and is quite amenable to organic farming if appropriate intercrops are grown in the inter-spaces. Due to multifarious uses, the future of the crop is very bright irrespective of the locations where it is grown in the world.
The coconut palm being a small land holder’s plantation crop grown in 1.89 million hectare area in the tropical belt of the country extending from Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh in south, Gujarat, Maharashtra in west, Orissa and West Bengal in the east, Assam and Tripura in the North Eastern region of India and is a means of living for millions of people inhabiting in the traditional and nontraditional coconut growing states and union territories. The islands of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep are other traditional coconut areas. Since the coconut crop has a national acceptance due to country wide demand either for edible, non-edible or religious purpose, it has triggered keen interest among people of even the non-traditional states to try few saplings in their home stead gardens .
The major socio-economic feature of this plantation crop is that it is predominantly cultivated in small and marginal holding and with medium resource to poor farm environment having less marketable surplus. It has been reported that the national average productivity of coconut in India is very low i.e. around 40 nuts per palm per year. The low productivity of coconut crop in the country has been on account of several reasons, i.e. lack of adoption of scientific cultivation practices to enhance productivity, which helps in bringing down the cost of production. In most of the small coconut holdings, the soil nutrients and water are limiting factor in crop production. The unique nature of Indian coconut sector is the rain fed nature of crop cultivation coupled with practicing subsistence farming which often leads to low level returns from the holding. It can be seen in the foregoing paragraphs that there is distinct difference in the pattern of distribution of this crop in the country. Kerala, the southernmost state situated along the West coast is a major coconut growing state. Except in Kerala and a few small states and union territories, coconut is not grown contiguously but limited to only congenial belts accounting to an insignificant portion of the total arable agricultural area. Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh are therefore the four major coconut producing state, sharing 90.8 per cent of the total area, whereas the contribution of other states / union territories is only 9.2 per cent.
Traditional areas of coconut cultivation are the states of Kerala (45.22%),Tamil Nadu (26.56%), Karnataka(10.85%), Andhra Pradesh (8.93%) and also Goa, Orissa, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Maharashtra and the islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar.
Coconut in the North Eastern Region: North-Eastern region comprising states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim accounts for nearly eight per cent of the country’s geographical area. Coconut is one of the most popular crop grown for a long time especially in Assam state and in recent times in others N.E. states. The area and production which were 11,000 hectares and 60 million nuts, respectively, during 1985 - 86, have now increased to 40,000 hectares and about 178 million nuts, in the North Eastern Region. The cultivation which was confined to Assam, Tripura and to some extent in Manipur, has now spread to states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya due to efforts made by Coconut Development Board
In a coconut based cropping system, coconut trees are planted as a base crop and all other crops are intercropped using the vertical and horizontal spaces between coconut trees. Coconut is a tree which has no branches and grows straight vertically upwards providing more and more space under its canopy. Its leaves are such that it allows sun light to the crops grown under it. Because of these peculiar characteristics of this tree the coconut based cropping system is quite different from other cropping system based on other crops. Coconut based cropping system is a combination of multiple cropping systems in vertical and horizontal dimensions. Coconut can be planted in all the parts of India where winter is not severe. However, its performance is better in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, plains of Assam and Manipur. It can grow also in the southern parts of Madhya Pradesh though the performance is not comparable with that of other places. But even in areas of poor performance it is advisable to go for coconut based cropping system due a number of advantages.
The basic principles of coconut based cropping system are the following.
Examples of coconut based cropping systems are as follows.
Cropping System in Coconut
Coconut based cropping system is a very intensive type of cultivation and hence special attention should be paid to soil fertility maintenance. This is achieved by establishing a systematic water and organic matter cycle. The farm land should be so structured that all the rain water should be absorbed in the farm itself or stored in appropriate storage tanks. Where water scarcity is experienced, store water in non-permeable tanks for use during scarcity period. Along with appropriate soil and water conservation extensive mulching should be practiced. Eventually these mulches become organic matter to the soil. Special effort should be made to generate and incorporate as much organic material as possible into the soil. Priority should be given to nitrogen fixing plants and biofertilizers.
The net income per unit area depends on the type of intercrops and the cropping system that is followed. However, the following estimates give an idea of the income that can be obtained from an area of coconut based cropping system. Assuming an average yield of 200 coconuts per tree, fourty coconut trees will yield 8000 coconuts. Assume Rs. 4 as sale price, 32000 rupees could be obtained from coconut alone. The value of leaves, firewood, material, shells, fibre etc will be about 8 to 10 thousand rupees. This steady income of 40 to 42 thousand rupees can be obtained from coconuts. Nearly equal amount from husbandry units, though the cost of production may be more compared to coconuts. However, by proper planning expenditures can be reduced. In general a coconut based cropping system can give a total income of 40, 000, to 80, 000 per acre which is quite high compared to the present standards.
The coconut palm is found to grow under varying climatic and soil conditions. It is essentially a tropical plant growing mostly between 200N, 200S latitudes. However, a rainfall of about 2000 mm per year, well distributed throughout, is ideal for proper growth and maximum production. Coconut is grown under different soil types such as loamy, laterite, coastal sandy, alluvial, clayey and reclaimed soils of the marshy low lands. The ideal soil conditions for better growth and performance of the palm are proper drainage, good water-holding capacity and presence of water table within 3 m and absence of rock or any hard substratum within 2 m of the surface.
There are only two distinct varieties of coconut, the tall and the dwarf. The tall cultivars that are extensively grown are the West Coast Tall and East Coast Tall. The dwarf variety is shorter in stature and its life span is short as compared to the tall. Tall x Dwarf (T x D), Dwarf x Tall (D x T) are the two important hybrids. There are 10 different combinations of hybrids, developed by Kerala Agricultural University and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University and released for commercial cultivation. They are high yielders under the good management conditions. Laccadive Ordinary, Andaman Ordinary, Philippines, Java, Cochin-China, Kappadam etc. is the other tall cultivars under cultivation. ￼
The West Coast Tall and the East Coast Tall are the extensively grown tall cultivars.
List of Tall Varieties
List of Dwarf Varieties
Hybrids are the intervarietal crosses of two morphological forms of coconut. They show earliness in flowering and give increased yield, higher quantity and better quality of copra and oil when compared to the parents.
List of Hybrid Varieties
Selection of Seed Gardens
Mother Palm Selection
For production of quality planting materials it is essential to have good quality mother palms of the desired varieties. In the absence of commercially viable vegetative propagation techniques only seed propagation is possible. Therefore mother palm selection is a key factor in planting material production of coconut.
The important features of superior mother palms are:
Strategies for Root Wilt Diseased Tracts
In the root wilt disease prevalent tracts, in the midst of heavily diseased palms, high yielding disease free West Coast Tall (WCT), Chowghat green dwarf (CGD) and Chowghat Orange Dwarf (COD) palms are found. Such palms can be selected as mother palms and open pollinated nuts of those palms can be used for large scale planting material production. Seedlings produced from these palms are expected to be high yielding and disease free.
Selection of Seed Nuts
Harvest seed nuts during the months of February - August in Tamil Nadu, December to May in Kerala to get maximum germination and good quality seedlings. Tall varieties are sown one or two months after collection whereas dwarfs should be sown immediately after harvest (within 10 to 15 days).
Maturity of Seed Nut
The mature nuts are harvested when at least one nut in the oldest bunch starts becoming dry. In Tall varieties, it takes 11-12 months to become a matured seed nut whereas in dwarfs, nuts will mature in 10-11 months after emergence of the inflorescence. They produce a resonant and ringing sound when hit with the harvesting knife or tapped by finger indicating that the husk is dry. Immature nuts will produce a dull sound. Harvest the bunches intended for seed nut by lowering them to the ground using a rope to avoid injury to seednuts when palms are tall and ground is hard. The seednuts should be medium sized, round or oblong in shape.
Storage of Seed Nuts
To get more quality seedlings, the seed nuts of tall and hybrid are to be air cured for one month followed by sand curing for two months. For dwarf varieties, the air curing should be lesser than one month followed by sand curing for two months. In general seed nuts of tall variety are stored up to two months after harvest and dwarfs are sown within 15 days. For storing, arrange the seed nuts with the stalk-end up over an 8 cm layer of sand in a shed and cover with sand to prevent drying of nut water. Up to five layers of nuts can be arranged one over the other.The nuts can also be stored in plots, provided the soil is sandy and the ground is sufficiently shaded. In the case of nuts harvested in May, heap them in partial shade, till husk is well dried and then sow them in the nursery. Nuts without splashing sound indicate that the nut water has become dry and hence they should not be used for sowing.
Shallow soils with underlying hard rock, low lying areas subject to water stagnation and clayey soils are to be avoided. Proper supply of moisture either through well distributed rainfall or through irrigation should be ensured before planting.
Preparation of Land and Planting
On slopes and in areas of undulating terrain, prepare the land by contour terracing or bunding. In low-lying areas mounds are to be formed at planting site to a height of at least 1m above water level. In reclaimed ‘kayal’ areas, seedlings are planted on field bunds. In loamy soils with low water table, a pit size of 1m x 1m x 1m is recommended. In laterite soils with underlying rocks, take larger pits of size 1.2m x 1.2m x 1.2m. In sandy soils the size need not exceed 0.75m x 0.75m x 0.75 m.
Spacing depends upon the planting system, soil type etc. In general the following spacing are recommended under different planting system in sandy and laterite soils.
|Square||7.6 x 7.6 m, 8 x 8 m, 9 x 9 m|
|Single||6.5 m in rows - 9 m between rows|
|Double Hedge||6.5 to 6.5 m in rows - 9 m between pairs of rows|
Seedlings can be transplanted in the beginning of the south west monsoon. If irrigation facilities are available, it is advisable to take up planting at least a month before the onset of the monsoon so that the seedlings get well established before heavy rains. Planting can also be taken up before the onset of the north-east monsoon. In low-lying areas subject to inundation during monsoon period, transplanting may be done after the cessation of the monsoon. Before planting the pits are filled up with top soil and powdered cow dung / compost up to a depth of 50 to 60 cm. Then take a small pit inside this, so as to accommodate the nut attached to the seedling. Plant the seedling inside this pit and fill up with soil. Press the soil well so as to avoid water stagnation. If there is chance for white-ant attack apply Sevidol 8G (5gm) inside the small pit before planting. In laterite areas apply 2 kg common salt per pit for improving the physical condition of the soil. Burying 25 to 30 coconut husks per pit in layers will be useful for moisture conservation.
The transplanted seedlings should be shaded and irrigated adequately during the summer months. Also provide staking so that winds may not uproot the young seedlings. For the first two years after planting, irrigate the seedling twice a week during the dry summer months. Shading is a must to the transplanted seedlings.
Regular manuring from the first year of planting is essential to achieve higher productivity. For coconut 20 - 50 kg organic manure should be applied per palm per year with the onset of south west monsoon, when soil moisture content is high. Different forms of organic manures like compost, farm yard manure, bone meal, fish meal, blood meal, neem cake, groundnut cake etc. could be made use for this purpose. In addition to this the following fertilizer schedule is recommended .
The root regions of coconut palm are inhabited by a number of free living and associative symbiotic nitrogen–fixing bacteria having nitrogenase activity. The association of N2–fixing Azospirillum amazonense with the roots of coconut palm has recently been confirmed.Microbial combinations may have very great potential for plant growth enhancement. While raising coconut seedlings in coir dust-soil mixture, Beijerinckia indica and associative diazotrophs such as Azospirillum, Arthrobacter, Azoarcus, Herbaspirillum, Bacillus, Burkholderia and Pseudomonas are promising microbiological inoculants which enhances the growth and performance of seedlings.
The local species of Eudrilus identified from coconut garden which is superior to other species in composting of coconut plantation wastes. This earthworm can be multiplied fast in a 1:1 mixture of cowdung and decayed organic wastes. Keep 10 kg of this mixture in bucket and release 50 to 100 worms. Mulch the mixture with grass and cover with a net. Maintain the moisture. In 1 to 2 months 150 to 300 g earthworm will be produced.
Coir pith contains very less nitrogen and has large amounts of lignin and phytotoxic polyphenols and has to be composted before using as manure. Exposure to rains and sunlight for many years results in loss of problematic chemicals and the use of weathered coir pith may be advantages. Fresh coir pith has a wide C: N ratio (about 100:1) and for initiating microbial action, nitrogenous organic or inorganic materials are to be added. Additionally, fortification with rock phosphate at the rate of 10kg per ton of coir pith can also favor microbial action. The well known technology for composting coir pith using Pleurotus sajor caju may be utilized for large scale composting. For composting one ton of coir pith, 5kg of urea and 5 bottles of Pleurotus spawn is required. 100 kg of coir pith is spread on a level land in shaded place and 1 bottle of spawn is sprinkled over it. The spawn layer is covered with 100 kg coir pith and 1 kg urea is sprinkled over it. This process is repeated 5 times to get a heap, which is protected from direct sunlight and rain. Proper moisture to be maintains in the heap and is allowed to undergo degradation for 1 month. This compost can be used as manure in coconut plantations.
Recycling of Palm Waste
Recycling of palm waste is very much beneficial especially for maintaining the availability status of micronutrients and trace elements. Palm wastes like coconut leaves, crown waste, dried spathes, husk etc. may be deposited in a small trench of convenient length, 0.5 m to 0.75 m wide and 0.3 to 0.5 m deep at a distance of 2-2.5 m away from the base of the trunk. Fill up this trench with the palm wastes along one side of the palm (say north) in one year, opposite side (south) in the next year, east in the third year and so on. This practice of organic recycling of waste has been found to improve the growth and productivity of the palms.
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 of compost to be applied. Sow sunnhemp @ 50 g/palm in the basin and incorporate before flowering. Coir pith compost/vermicompost made from coir pith/ coconut leaves/ other wastes from coconut grove can be applied.
Soil moisture very often limits coconut production in those areas where long spell of dry weather prevail or where the rainfall is scanty and ill-distributed. So irrigate the palms during summer months in basins around the palm. The irrigation requirement varies according to the soil type and climatic condition. Generally, an adult palm requires 600 to 800 litres of water once in four to seven days. Irrigate in basins of 1.8 m radius and 10-20 cm depth. In irrigated gardens interruption of irrigation would lead to serious set-back in yield and general condition of palms. Hence, when once started irrigation should be continued regularly and systematically.
Fertigation is a method of fertilizer application by the drip system in which fertilizer is incorporated within the irrigation water.
Advantages of fertigation
Fertilizer efficiencies of various application methods (%)
Fertilizer used in fertigation
Fertilizers commonly used in fertigation
|Nmae||N - P2O5 - K2O content|
Specialty water soluble fertilizers
Only minimum tillage is required for coconut. Inter-cultural operations are mainly intended to control weeds and to provide aeration to the soil. If these objectives are met, any tillage system (ploughing / digging, making mounds) is as good as another and can be followed depending upon the local conditions.
Burying fresh or dried coconut husks around the palm is a very beneficial practice particularly for moisture retention especially in drought prone areas. The husk can be buried either in linear trenches taken 3 m away from the trunk between rows of palms or in circular trenches taken around the palm at a distance of 2 m from the trunk. The trenches may be dug at 0.5 m wide and at the same depth. The husks are to be placed in layers with concave surface facing upwards and covered with soil. The beneficial effects of husk burial will last for about 5-7 years.
This will help to increase the organic matter content of the soil and also will prevent soil erosion in coconut gardens. The following Green manure / cover crops are recommended for cultivation in coconut gardens.
Schedule for inter-mixed cropping may be drawn up based on the canopy size and orientation of palms. A variety of intercrops like pineapple, banana, elephant-foot yam, groundnut, chillies, sweet potato, tapioca and different vegetables can be raised in coconut garden. In older plantation cocoa, cinnamon, pepper, clove, nutmeg etc. can be grown as mixed crops. However, these inter/mixed crops are to be adequately and separately manured in addition to the manures applied to the coconut palm.
Mixed farming by raising fodder grasses such as Hybrid Napier or Guinea grass along with leguminous fodder crops such as Stylosanthes has been found to be profitable. Raising the above crops in one hectare of coconut garden can support three to four diary animals. The animals supply large quantities of cattle manure which when applied to the soil will improve its fertility status. This sort of mixed farming will improve the yield of the palm.
Procedure for Harvesting Methods
Advantages and Disadvantages of Harvesting Methods
The major insect pests of the coconut palm are
I : Rhinoceros Beetle - Oryctes rhinoceros
II : Red Palm Weevil - Rhynchophorus ferrugineus
III : Black Headed Caterpillar - Opisina arenosella
IV : Slug Caterpillar - Parasa lepida and Contheyla rotunda
V : Coconut Skipper - Gangara thyrsis and Suastus gremius
VI : Coreid Bug - Paradasynus rostratus
VII : Bag Worm - Manatha albipes
VIII : Lacewing Bug - Stephanitis typicus
IX : Scale Insect - Aspidiotus destructor
X : Rats - Rattus rattus wroughtoni
XI : Palm Civet - Vivera zibatha
XII : Mealy Bugs - Pseudococcus longispinus
XIII : Termites - Odontotermes obesus
XIV : White Grub - Leucopholis coneophora
XV : Eriophid Mite - Aceria guerreronis
XVI : Nut Borer - Cyclodes omma
XVII : Nematodes
The coconut palm is affected by a number of diseases, some of which are lethal while others gradually reduce the vigour of the palm causing severe loss in yield. A brief account of the important coconut diseases is given.
I : Bud Rot - Phytophthora palmivora
II : Leaf Rot - Bipolaris halodes
III : Stem Bleeding - Ceratocystis paradoxa and Chalara paradoxa
IV : Root (Wilt) Disease - Unknown Etiology
V : Thanjavur Wilt - Ganoderma lucidum
VI : Mahali - Phytophthora palmivora
VII : Crown Chocking
VIII : Leaf Blight or Grey Leaf Spot - Pestalosia palmivora
IX : Lethal leaf blight - Lasiodiplodia theobromae
X : Tatipaka Disease - Phytoplasma
XI : Botryodiplodia Nut Fall - Botryodiplodia theobromae
XII : Inflorescence Blight and Nut Fall - Colletotrichum gloeosporioides, Gloeosporium spp
XIII : Mid Whorl Yellowing / Quick Yellow Declining - Phytoplasma
Photos From Henry Louis Book
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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 where thick planting is adopted, many trees give an yield of less than 20 nuts/palm/year. By cutting and removal of these trees, the yield could be increased. Besides, there is saving in the cost of cultivation and increase in net profit. After removal of low yielding trees, the populations should be maintained at 175 palms/ha.
ii. Ensuring adequate manuring and irrigation: The yield can be increased in the existing gardens when manuring + irrigation + cultural practice is adopted as per recommendation.
2.Pencil Point Disorder (Micronutrient deficiency)
Because of micronutrient deficiency, the stem will taper towards its tip with lesser number of leaves. The leaf size will be greatly reduced and the leaves will be pale and yellow in colour. Along with the recommended fertilizer dose, 225 g each of Borax, Zinc sulphate, Manganese sulphate, Ferrous sulphate, Copper sulphate and 10 g of Ammonium molybdate may be dissolved in 10 litres of water and poured in the basin of 1.8 m radius. This disorder can be corrected if noticed early. Severely affected palms may be removed and replanted with new seedlings.
3. Button Shedding
Heavy button shedding and premature nut fall cause enormous yield reduction in coconut. These are caused by several factors such as,
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. Management of young coconut gardens under waterlogged conditions
(i) A trench between two rows of young coconut palms should be dug during onset of the monsoon rains. The size of the trench is 3 m width, 30 – 45 cm depth to entire length of field. The soil excavated from the trench should be placed along the rows of palms to make a raised bed.
(ii) Form mound around the young palms to a radius of 1.2 m width with height of 30 –45 cm.
d. Genetic causes
In some trees button shedding may persist even after ensuring adequate manuring, irrigation and 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 minimise the button shedding. Apply extra 2 kg of muriate of potash with 200 g of Borax/palm over and above the usual dosage of fertilizer to correct the barren nuts in coconut for period of 3 years.
f. Lack of pollination
Button shedding also occurs due to lack of pollination. Setting up of beehives @ 15 units/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 fertilised female flowers i.e., buttons shed in some cases. By spraying 2, 4- D at 30 ppm or NAA 20 ppm (2,4-D 30 mg or NAA 20 mg per litre of water) on the inflorescence one month after opening of the spathe, the setting percentage could be increased.
Button shedding may happen due to the attack of bug. Spraying of systemic insecticides like Methyldematon 0.025% (1ml/lit) or Dimethoate 0.03% (1ml/lit) may reduce the occurrence.
Button shedding also occurs due to disease incidence such as basal stem rot. Adoption of control measures suggested for the disease reduces not only spread of the disease but also prevents shedding of buttons.
Coconut palms are frequently struck by lightning, causing the death of one or more palms in one patch and affecting the health of a number of others. The total damage depends on the intensity of the electrical discharge. Plantations in areas where rainstorms are frequent often show various gaps where palms are missing as a result of lightning damage.
The visible symptoms of lightning strike on coconuts depend on the intensity of the discharge and on the distance between the affected palms and the one directly hit. Directly-hit palms may be killed instantly, their stems being charred. Fire setting to a palm is very rare. It may occur on palms with dry leaves hanging along the stem and the lightning hitting the palm before the rain has started to fall. Splitting of the stem and/or decapitation of the palm is also very rare. Sometimes the central spear of the palm may collapse after the flash, showing no signs of charring, the central leaves being withered. Where the strike has been less intensive, the leaves start drooping after a few days and all leaves gradually dry up with the rachis turning brown, leaving a burnt appearance.
Usually, the visible symptoms are much less spectacular, but even so, directly hit palms and neighbouring palms may die within a week. The leaves of affected palms may be partially scorched, the outer leaves hanging down. In some leaves, the mid-rib may be broken at a short distance from the tip, the leaflets beyond this point turning brown and dying off. Mature leaves may die off completely, the process starting at the tip of the leaf, progressing towards the base. Sometimes all leaves die in this way and finally the palm dies.
Newly transplanted seedlings may show breaking of leaves at the middle region or distal end. When closely observed, large reddish oily patches can be seen on the rachis (Ramaiah, 1990). In palms that are not killed instantly, a striking phenomenon may develop after a few days, the exudation of sap from the stem. The brownish liquid oozes from innumerable cracks in the bark, forming froth masses that run down in streaks. This symptom is somewhat similar to that caused by fire heat, but the bleeding is much stronger, giving the impression that the whole of the internal tissues are undergoing rapid fermentation. The affected tissues are pale brown, uniformly coloured and full of sap. Sometimes a crack running along the entire length of the stem may be observed. Sometimes the stem collapses after the strike. Neighboring palms may have several leaves snapped near the tip, with the broken part hanging vertically down, opposite the palm which received the discharge. The latter is one of the most indicative symptoms of lightning strike. Depending on the intensity of the discharge, one, a few, or even a large number of palms may succumb to the effects, some even after 10 months. The affected palms at greater distance from the strike first may appear to continue their growth normally but develop visible symptoms after a few months only. Other palms, having suffered lightly, may recover.
Symptoms: Older leaflets of affected palms have light tan necrotic tips, the necrosis gradually spreading up the leaflets. This disorder is caused by excessive B in the soil or irrigation water.
Excessive Water Uptake (Trunk Splitting)
Palms that take up excessive amounts of water may have trunks with deep longitudinal splits. These trunks will often appear waterlogged and may be covered with mosses, lichens, algae, and other epiphytes. This problem is most common in areas that typically receive high rainfall, but can also occur in drier areas in response to extended wet weather.
Foliar Salt Injury
Foliar salt injury appears as desiccation of the foliage. Symptoms may be more severe on the exposed windward side of palms growing near the ocean. Some palms may be killed by salt spray. Salt spray from the ocean on the foliage can cause desiccation of leaves unless it is quickly rinsed off by rainfall or other fresh water.
Among post-emergent herbicides, glyphosate injury appears as distortion and reduction in the size of new leaves. New leaflets may show some necrosis. Phenoxy herbicides such as 2, 4-D cause distortion of the foliage and contortion of petioles.
Pre-emergent herbicides typically cause injury to newly emerging foliage. Symptoms include new leaf dieback, chlorosis, stunting, and varying patterns of necrosis. Death of the meristem or bud is common. In palms treated with metolachlor, symptoms often include the production of side shoots in addition to new leaf stunting, necrosis, and distortion. Large palms growing in landscape can also be affected by pre-emergent herbicides, often fatally. Herbicides applied to the foliage or soil can be absorbed by palms with variable results.
High Soil Soluble Salts
Palms suffering from high soil soluble salts usually have necrotic leaflet tips on older leaves. New foliage may express typical Fe deficiency symptoms or wilting due to reduced root surface area for nutrient and water absorption. Toots will often have necrotic tips or more extensive necrosis due to secondary root rots. High soil soluble salts can be caused by excessive fertilization or the use of saline irrigation water.
Improper Planting Depth
Palms planted too deeply usually exhibit symptoms of root suffocation such as chlorosis from Fe or Mn deficiency, wilting or shriveling of the trunk, reduced canopy size, root rots, and ultimately death. Palms stressed from deep planting are also more attractive to boring insects. Palms planted too shallowly typically have their trunks elevated above the soil line and are totally supported by roots. New adventitious root initials remain in a state of arrested development at the base of the trunk due to desiccation. Easily topple over in moderate to high winds. Deep planting results in reduced root zone oxygen levels planting of palm seedlings in containers as little as 1 inch too deep can result in chronic Fe deficiency symptoms and reduced growth rate. In shallow planted palms, newly emerging adventitious roots arising from the base of the stem axis are exposed to dry air. Always plant large palms such that the swollen base of the stem is about 1 inch below the soil line. Palms planted too deeply should be dug up and replanted at the proper depth. Shallowly planted palms, if small, can be similarly replanted at the proper depth, but large, established palms can be stabilized by simply mounding up soil around the base of the undeveloped root initials at the base of the trunk.
Early symptoms of root suffocation are often those of Fe deficiency, with chlorotic new leaves being produced. In severe cases, wilting of the foliage and shrinkage of the trunk may occur. Roots may appear rotted. The root rot diseases that often result are secondary problems. Planting palms more deeply waterlogged soils also reduce soil aeration. Palms in poorly-drained landscape or field sites, or in poorly-drained container substrates often suffer from this problem.
Typical water stress symptoms include reduced growth and necrosis of leaflet tips, spreading to the entire leaf as severity increases. Oldest leaves are usually the first to show symptoms, but eventually newly emerging leaves may also wither and die. Death of the meristem or bud may follow. Water stress in some species is indicated by leaflets folding about the midrib or wilting. In mature palms, shriveling or collapse of the trunk may also occur. Water stress occurs when water is limiting or the root system is incapable of taking up sufficient water.
Leaves of wind susceptible species appear tattered; often with only leaflet mid-veins remaining Petioles of individual leaves anywhere within the canopy may snap and hang down. These may or may not remain green. High winds from storms can damage foliage. Avoid planting in areas prone for heavy winds, provide wind belts.
a. Tender Coconut Water
The water of tender coconut, technically the liquid endosperm, is the most nutritious wholesome beverage that the nature has provided for the people of the tropics to fight the sultry heat. It has caloric value of 17.4 per 100 gm. "It is unctuous, sweet, increasing semen, promoting digestion and clearing the urinary path," says Ayurveda on tender coconut water (TWC).
Numerous medicinal properties of tender coconut water reported are
Sugars Sugars in the forms of glucose and fructose form an important constituent of the tender nut water. The concentration of sugars in the nut water steadily increases from about 1.5 per cent to about 5 - 5.5 per cent in the early months of maturation and then slowly falls reaching about 2 per cent at the stage of the full maturity of the nut. In the early stages of maturity, sugars are in the form of glucose and fructose (reducing sugars) and sucrose (non-reducing sugar) appears only in later stages which increases with the maturity while the reducing sugars fall. In the fully mature nut approximately 90 per cent of the total sugars are sucrose.
Tender coconut water contains most of the minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper, sulphur and chlorides. Among the minerals more than half is potassium the concentration of which is markedly influenced by potash manuring. Tender coconut water being rich in potassium and other minerals plays a major role to increase the urinary output.
Protein Coconut water contains small amounts of protein. The percentage of arginine, alanine, cystine and serene in the protein of tender coconut water are higher than those in cow’s milk. Since it does not contain any complex protein the danger of producing shock to the patients is minimized.
Tender coconut water contains both ascorbic acid and vitamins of B group. The concentration of ascorbic acid ranges from 2.2 to 3.7mg per ml, which gradually diminishes as the kernel surrounding the water begins to harden.
b. Copra Two types of copra namely milling and edible are made in India. Milling copra is used to extract oil while edible grade of copra is consumed as a dry fruit and used for religious purposes. Milling copra is generally manufactured by adopting sun drying and artificial means. Substantial quantity of milling copra is manufactured using modern hot air driers resulting in the availability of superior quality copra which is required for the manufacture of best grade coconut oil. A good number of farmers' co-operative societies are also involved in the manufacture and marketing of milling copra. Milling copra is available in different grades. Edible copra is made in the form of balls and cups. Different grades of edible copra are available in the market according to the size, colour etc.
c. Coconut Oil Coconut oil is used in the country as a cooking fat, hair oil, body oil and industrial oil. Coconut oil is made from fully dried copra having maximum moisture content of six per cent. Steam cooking of copra is also practised by some millers to enhance the quality and aroma of oil. Coconut oil is marketed in bulk as well as in packs ranging from sachets containing 5 ml. to 15kg tins. The branded coconut oil in small packs is mainly marketed as hair oil and body oil. There are several brands known for their superior grade oil which have export market throughout the world. India has unbeatable quality advantage in this sector. Refined coconut oil is also manufactured in the country for industrial uses. Refined coconut oil is mainly used in the manufacture of biscuits, chocolates and other confectionery items, ice cream, pharmaceutical products and costly paints. Generally, filtered coconut oil is used for cooking and toiletry purposes. Virgin coconut oil is also made from the milk extracted from raw kernel. This is done on a small scale by the traditional method which is now partially mechanised or on a large scale by adopting wet processing technology. Coconut milk is fermented and then by mechanical process, water is separated from oil. No heating or application of sunlight or dryer is done for the process.
d. Convenience Products from Raw Kernel
Desiccated coconut (DC), Coconut Cream, Coconut Milk, Virgin Coconut Oil and Spray Dried Coconut Milk Powder are the convenience coconut products manufactured in the country. Desiccated coconut is used as a substitute to grated raw coconut in various food preparations. Desiccated coconut is marketed in bulk as well as in small packs. Defatted desiccated coconut is also available in the country. Processed coconut cream/ coconut milk are used in various food preparations as a substitute to milk extracted from raw kernel in the traditional method. They are available in cans and tetra packs. Spray drying is the best method for the preservation of coconut milk. The product has advantages such as less storage space, bulk packaging possible at low cost and long shelf life. Spray dried coconut powder is manufactured by one unit in the country.
e. Coconut Oil Cake Coconut cake is the residue left after the extraction of oil from copra which is mainly used as a cattle feed. Coconut cake contains 4-5 per cent oil which is extracted by solvent extraction process. This oil is generally used for industrial purpose and de-oiled cake is used to make mixed cattle feed.
f. Coconut Toddy Toddy tapping is an organized industry in traditional coconut growing tracts in the country. Coconut jaggery is made from sweet coconut toddy. It is manufactured by a few units in Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala on cottage scale and is available in different packings. Toddy on fermentation becomes an alcoholic drink. Arrack and vinegar are also manufactured from coconut toddy. In Goa commercial arrack obtained by distillation of coconut toddy is known as coconut fenny.
g. Coconut Shell based Products
Shell charcoal, shell based activated carbon, shell powder, shell handicrafts, shell ice cream cups and ladles, forks, show pieces, shell buttons, etc. are the shell based products available in the country.
Coconut Shell Handicrafts
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h. Coconut Wood based Products
The coconut wood because of its distinct grain characteristics is ideal for making wall panels, furniture, doors and windows, show pieces, etc. There are several small scale units manufacturing a variety of articles from coconut wood.
i. Coconut Leaves
Coconut leaves are plaited and used for thatching houses and sheds in rural areas. Plaited coconut leaves are also used for making baskets, headgears and for erection of temporary fences. Plaiting of coconut leaves is a cottage industry in traditional coconut growing states. Midribs of leaves are used to make brooms of different types which are used for cleaning rough grounds and floors.
j. Coir Pith
Coir pith a waste product obtained during the extraction of coir fibre from husk is very light, highly compressible and highly hygroscopic. It is used as a soil conditioner, surface mulch/ rooting medium and desiccant. Composted coir pith is excellent organic manure for indoor plants as well as for horticulture crops. Several firms are manufacturing composted coir pith in the country .