The coconut palm (Cocos nucifera linn.) is the most useful palm in the world. The copra obtained by drying the kernel of coconut is the richest source of vegetable oil containing 65 to 70 per cent oil.
Climate and Soil:
It is essentially a tropical plant growing mostly between 20oN 20oS latitudes. A rainfall of about 2000 mm per year 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.
Soil conditions for better growth and performance of the palm are proper drainage, good water-holding capacity, presence of water table within 3m and absence of rock or any hard substratum within 2m 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 (TxD), Dwarf x Tall (DxT) are the two important hybrids.
Generally 9 to 12 month old seedlings are used for planting. Select seedlings, which have 6-8 leaves and 10-12 cm collar girth when they are 9-12 month old.
Early splitting of leaves is another criteria in the selection of coconut seedling.
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.
Drip irrigation is the best suited method of irrigation for coconut. It saves water, labour and energy.
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. In coastal sandy soils, sea water can be used for irrigating adult palms. Do not irrigate seedlings and very young palms upto 2 year with sea water.