Coconut (Cocos Nucifera L.) is popularly known as the "TREE OF LIFE" because of the variety of products and by-products made from the tree namely: coconut meat, oil, juice, husk, shell, shell charcoal, leaves, husk, pith, inflorescence, trunk and roots.
The coconut industry in the Philippines plays a key role in shaping national development. It is among the top ten export produce of the country as exhibited by the good export performance of both traditional and non-traditional coconut products.
(Source: Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research, Date accessed 24 March 2014)
1. Coir Fiber and dust
2. Coconut shell charcoal
3. Copra meal
4. Coconut water
5. Coconut sap
For more information about the coconut industry, you may visit the Philippine Coconut Authority.
For further assistance in your area, you may check the Technical and Financial Assistance Directory.
Propagation and Care of Seedlings
There are many types of propagation techniques.
Coconut is a monoecious crop (having both the male and female flowers are borne in the same plant). When the male part fertilized the female flower, the resulting offspring is called Inbred. This method follows the same characteristics the mother plant has.
The production of hybrid is done by removal of male flowers and artificial pollination of female flowers of a different tree during pollination time. To ensure no inbreeding is accidentally done, male flowers are removed and female flowers are covered to prevent inbreeding.
This adopts the genetic characteristics of the mother tree. The advantage of this method is it multiplies easily without using a large area. It may also be a method to replicate pest and disease resistant varieties.
Nuts are subjected to selection where those that are barren, dry or not sloshing; deformed and damaged nuts are discarded. Nuts are placed in cool dry place until they germinate. These nuts contain meat and water that support and nourish the growth of the embryo during germination. Nuts are placed in germination beds to facilitate careful selection of good seedlings. All seedlings that germinate within 11 to 15 weeks from sowing or 84% whichever comes first shall be selected.
Planting in polybags reduces transplanting shock since most of its roots are not disturbed during transplanting. Recommended polybags are black 40 cm long, 40 cm high and 0.20 mm thick.
Otherwise seedbeds are prepared for nursery. Seedbed should have a very friable soil. The land must be plowed several times. Blocks with dimensions of 1 meter width or less are laid-out to allow nursery caretakers to move freely. In between blocks, footpath are maintained at 40 cms apart. Seeds are laid on its side in the furrow and covered with soil so that about one-fourth of the nut diameter is above the ground. Shading of any sort must be provided. Young coconut trees could not survive under direct sunlight specially during summer months.
Like other crops, coconut cannot be established in thick vegetation. Clearing of debris from thick vegetation is primarily necessary to eliminate possible breeding sites for the destructive rhinoceros beetle. Hence, the area should be cleared of felled trees/shrubs, stumps, weeds, and other obstruction and then plowed and harrowed to improve soil tilth.
- Land must not be water logged. Coconuts do not grow well on flooded land.
- Soil depth must not be less than 1 meter. Root canopy is more than 1 meter.
- Rain water is available most of the year. Areas that have distinct dry season is not preferred.
Staking of Field Layout
|Tall x Tall||Dwarf x Tall||Dwarf x Dwarf|
|Distance bet. palms||9||8.5||8|
|Distance bet. rows||7.8||7.35||6.9|
Access Roads and Surface Drainage
Access roads are needed in delivering seedlings and supplies, and later, in hauling the produce to and from the farm. These facilitate inspection, data gathering and evaluation of palms. Surface drainage is essential to avoid water logging.
Prior to digging, plating guides are put in place by using 2 pegs placed at equal distances from the stake. This indicates the center of the hole where the sprout of the seedling to be planted later on will have to be aligned. It must be noted that by using a stick marked at the center, and using the planting guides at planting time, the relocation of the stake in the hole can easily be done. Holes should be dug at 50x50cm size. This operation commences as early as 2 months before planting to allow for weathering of the soil on the sides and bottom of the holes. Weathering is encouraged to promote early root contact.
Selection is an indispensable process in any crop improvement work. In coconut plantations, seedling selection aims to produce high quality planting materials which when properly done could easily increase uniformity and production by 10% or higher.
However for hybrid trials where materials should possess representative "genetic image" of the chosen material, pest- and disease-free seedlings showing food germination, vegetative development and vigor should be selected.
Unless the number of "abnormal-looking" seedlings significantly exceeds the average number of "normal-looking" seedlings per population, the selection should be towards the normal-looking seedlings.
Unless found to be significant, e.g., the number is sizeable, trait is distinct and uniform, the following types of seedlings are culled right away: multiple shoots, thin or leggy and etiolated, and albinos or seedlings which are devoid of chlorophyll.
Records and Layout of Palms
After laying out the field, a planting plan of map should be prepared. In this map, the photos are identified to show the spots where specific palms are to be planted. This facilitates palm and pedigree identification.
Coconut Plantation Establishment
Clearing and Levelling
First activity in Field planting is clearing of weeds, debris and other unwanted crops. Most unwanted crops are old coconut trees that have pest and diseases. It is very important to properly dispose infested / diseased coconut trees. If possible burn or bury into deep pits to avoid contaminating newly planted coconut trees.
Lay-outing and Planting
Triangular system of planting coconut is recommended with rows laid out in a north-south direction. The distance between palms in a row should be 9 m x 9 m to 10 m x 10 m for tall varieties and 8 m x 8 m to 8.5 m x 8.5 m for dwarf hybrid coconuts. Staking is done to ease in locating where the tree will be planted.
After staking, dig a hole with the dimension of 50 cm diameter and 50 cm depth. Seedlings are ready to for planting when they reach 7 months in seedbeds or pots. Best time to plant is during the onset of the rainy season. This is to avoid drying up of newly planted coconut trees. And to ensure greater survival since the trees roots have established itself and ready to absorb moisture left in the soil during the summer months.
Before the seedlings are placed on the hole, fertilizers are applied inside the hole as basal application (refer to table on fertilization below). Prompt replanting of dead trees must be done to avoid uneven growth of coconut trees.
- Cultivation - to remove weeds and improve soil moisture absorption and aeration.
- Irrigation and drainage - water logging and drought damages significantly coconut trees.
- Cover crops and control of weeds - Cover crops are beneficial to coconut because it prevents erosion during rainy season, excessive water lost during summer months. Some leguminous cover crops like Centrosema and Stylosanthes fixes nitrogen in the soil. Competition for sunlight, water and nutrients with coconut however must be avoided. Two serious weed problems for coconut are cogon and lantana. These two weeds can completely take over the small coconut tree.
- Intercrops - these are extra sources of income for the farmer. This is explained further on Chapter VI below. Considerations in selection of crops are market for the intercrop, competition it may offer to coconut as regards to water and nutrient requirement, tolerance or need for shade and dangers it may offer as alternate host for pest and diseases.
- Animals under the coconut - same as intercrops these are extra income for the farmer. However, caution must be considered in over crowding in one area. Soil tends to be compacted in overgrazed areas especially for cattle.
At pre-bearing or vegetative stage (1 to 3 years), split application of annual rate per palm. The first half at the start of the rainy season and the remaining half at six months after or about one months before end of the rainy season.
Nurient Requirement of Coconut
|Field Planting (FP)||30||50||44||7.5|
|6 months after FP||40||75||66||10|
|5 years or more||400||750||660||100|
|Field Planting (FP)||150||100||-|
|6 months after FP||200||150||-|
|5 years or more||1500||1500||1200|
Nutritionally deficient bearing palms need the following fertilizers:
Organic fertilizer 8.00 kg/palm per year
KCL (0-0-60) 1.65 kg/palm per year
NaCl (common salt) 1.50 kg/palm per year
Pest and Disease Management
Two main methods in controlling pest and diseases are a) chemical and b) biological. Chemical makes use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, etc as a means of control. While biological means utilizes parasites and predators.
For the purpose of obtaining high oil content in copra, the nuts should be harvested not earlier than twelve months after pollination. Harvesting using a "Halabas" (a sickle mounted on a bamboo pole) is much faster than climbing each tree. A picker can harvest 100 trees a day using the "Halabas" while only 25 trees a day for climbing each tree.
The active root system of a coconut palm is concentrated only within 2 meters from its base. Therefore, for a coconut plantation with a spacing of 8m x 8m leaves about 8,000 sq. meters space is left unproductive. To maximize the use of land and other resource such as manpower, machinery, fertilizer, pesticide, etc, intercropping is then adopted. Another reason why intercropping is practiced is the unusual fluctuations of the price of copra. Inclusion of other crops lessens the burden of the coconut farmer by giving alternative sources of income.
Two types of cropping pattern:
- Sequential crop - producing two or more crop in single stand one after the other on the same plot during the same year.
- Intercropping - growing two or more crop species at the same time in the same field.
Five ways of Intercropping:
- Mixed intercropping - simultaneous growing of two or more crop specie in an irregular arrangement, i.e. without a well-defined planting pattern
- Row intercropping - simultaneous growing of two or more crop specie in a well-defined row arrangement
- Strip intercropping - simultaneous growing of two or more crop species in a strip wide enough to allow independent cultivation, but at the same time, sufficiently narrow to induce crop interactions
- Relay intercropping - planting one or two crops within an established cropping pattern wherein the final stage of the first crop coincides with the initial development of the other crops
- Multi-storey cropping - coconut + black pepper + cacao + pineapple are planted so that each crop produces canopies at different heights.
One general rule in intercropping is to arrange to rows of intercrop in a way that these receive maximum sunlight throughout the day. With regards to selection of crops, the following factors must be considered:
- Market for the intercrop - coconut farmers must ensure they know where to sell the products of the intercrop. Alternate market outlets must also be determined in case pole vaulting happens.
- Competition it may offer to coconut as regards to sunlight, water and nutrient requirement. - Intercrops must be selected so as not to compete with sunlight, water and nutrient. Tree, root canopy must carefully be calculated so as not to cover other intercrop. In very tall coconut, sunlight increases as the height of coconut trees becomes taller.
- Microbial activity - Interplanting cacao between coconut palms showed success in many trials. Coconut-cacao intercrop improved the microbial activity of the rhizosphere. There was an increase in organic matter component of the soil caused by the periodic shredding of cacao leaves. Nitrogen fixing and phosphate solubilizing bacterial activity also increased. As a result, coconut yields were retained and cacao yields increased. Presently, PCA with funding from DA BAR will be spearheading an agri-business development project on Coconut-Cacao Intercropping project.
- Increase of pest and disease - some intercrop favor the build up of unfavorable pest and disease population. Observations on different trials are being documented for reference purposes. In other instances, however, build up of parasites and predators occur. This favors slow down of pest and disease population. In fact, some institutions like PCA and BPI are into direct research on rearing parasites and predators.
Another option in Coconut-based Farming System is Animals under coconut - the main benefit of grazing animals under coconut is for the removal of weeds. Manual and chemical process of weeding is done away with. Manure from the animals also helps in increasing the organic matter and nutrient of the soil. A disadvantage however especially for large animals is the over grazing which leads to compacted soil. Coconut roots are sensitive to aeration. To avoid this, cattle grazing must be supervised carefully.
Palms are best irrigated during summer months in basins around the palm. The irrigation requirement varies according to the soil type and climatic condition. Generally, adult palms require 600 to 800 litres of water once in four to seven days. Irrigate in basins of 1.8m radius and 10-20 cm depth. In coastal sandy soils, sea water can be used for irrigating adult palms. Do not irrigate seedlings and very young palms up to 2 year with sea water. 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. Drip irrigation is the best suited method of irrigation for coconut. It saves water, labour and energy [Coconut Development Board, India].
Pest and Disease Management
Rhinocerous beetle (bangangan)
Rhinoceros beetle can be controlled by removing all potential breeding sites (decaying coconut wood, sawdust, compost). Apply insecticide-treated sawdust on leaf axils no. 1-5 and green muscardine fungus (GMF) in breeding sites.
Slug caterpillar (pagi-pagi) and other sucking insects
Spray insecticide, e.g. Malathion or Diazinon, every fourteen days to control the larvae on young palms.
Aphids, whiteflies, mealy bugs and other leaf eating pests
Spray systematic insecticide e.g. Hostathion on underside of leaves every fourteen days.
Spray fungicide e.g. Daconil, Captan, Vitigran Blue every seven days for four weeks on affected leaves.
Dispose dead palm by burning and drench soil with fungicide e.g. Aliette.
Source: Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research – Agrifishtech and Department of Agriculture – Bureau of Agricultural Research – Agrifishtech , Date accessed 24 March 2014