Coconut and Production of Coconut Seedlings.


The coconut palm, Coccus nucifera L., is one of the most beautiful and useful palms in the world.

It provides a variety of useful products like food, fuel, and timber.

Every part of the tree is being utilized for some purpose or other and hence, it is called Kalpavriksha meaning tree of heaven which provides all the necessities of life.

It is grown in India in about 1.51 million ha.

With an annual production of about 9283.4 million nuts.

It ranks third in the world in area and production, first and second being Indonesia and the Philippines respectively.

Among the different coconut-growing states in India, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh account for nearly 90 percent in area and production.


  • The origin of coconut is believed to be somewhere in Southeast Asia.
  • Coconut, botanically Cocas nucifera has only one species under the genus Coccus.
  • It is a tall stately unbranched palm growing to a height of 12m to 24m.
  • The stem is marked by rings of leaf scars which are often not prominent at the base.
  • The palm has an adventitious root system, having numerous thick roots from the base of the stem almost throughout its life.
  • The roots are localized generally at the lowermost region of the stem which has been termed the bole.
  • Leaves are large, long, pinnately sect, borne on the crown.
  • The palm is monoecious with relatively few female flowers.
  • Male flowers are numerous and small with six stamens and in female flowers, the ovary is tricarpic, usually with one ovule.

The Fruit

  • The fruit is a large, one-seed drupe.
  • The outer layers of the pericarp are thick and fibrous.
  • The inner layer (endocarp of shell) is very hard, horny, or stony and the thin testa cohering to the endocarp is lined with white albuminous endosperm (meat), enclosing a large cavity, partially filled with sweet fluid.
  • The inflorescence develops within a strong, tough pointed double sheath called spathe which after full development splits along its underside from top to bottom and releases the inflorescence.
  • This usually occurs from 75-95 days after the first appearance of its tip in the leaf axil.
  • The primordial of the inflorescence begins to form the leaf axil about 32 months before the opening of the spathe.
  • In bearing coconut palm every leaf axil can produce a spadix and under normal conditions it varies from 12-15 per annum.
  • However, this number may be reduced due to adverse weather conditions.

The Cultivation

Since coconut cultivation involves substantial pre-bearing investment, greater emphasis must be given to the selection of the right type of planting material.

Quality seed nuts and seedlings are obtained through a series of selections made at various stages.

Selection of seed gardens

  • The garden should have palms with record consistently high yields and a high proportion of heavy bearers.
  • They should not be located in favourable environment.
  • They should be free from disease and pests.

Selection of mother plants

To raise coconut seedlings of superior quality, the selection of mother palms should be done before taking seed nuts. The following points may be taken into the case of while selecting mother palms.

  • The palm should be strong, stout, and growing straight.
  • Leaf scars on the palms should be closely spaced.
  • The palms should be regular bearers with an annual yield of more than 80 nuts and copra contents of not less than 150 g per nut.
  • Palms should have reached the full bearing stage and have been giving consistently high yields for at least four years.
  • Palms of above 60 years should be avoided.
  • Palms should have at least 30 fully opened leaves on the crown
  • The leaves should have short strong petioles with wide leaf bases firmly attached to the stem. Their arrangement should provide support to the bunches.
  • Each leaf axil should have one inflorescence with a large number of spikes and one or two female flowers per spike.
  • The bunch stalk should be short stout and strong.
  • Palms should have medium-sized nuts (about 1200 g dry weight/nut) with round and oblong shapes. Husked be large (about 570 g) with thick kernels.
  • Palms, that produce barren nuts or those shedding large numbers of nuts in the immature stage, should be discarded.

Selection of seed nut

For raising seedlings, it is important to collect seed nuts of high quality from the selected mother palms. The selected nuts can be stored in dry and cool places for about 3-4 months without deteriorating their viability. The following points should be considered while selecting seed nuts.

  • Collect seed nuts from February – May
  • Harvest only fully matured nuts (11-12 months old)
  • Nuts should not be damaged while harvesting
  • Discard the nuts having an irregular shape, size, and improper development
  • Select seed nuts of uniform size with thin husks weighing above 100 g.
  • Selected seed nuts should float on water vertically. The content of copra should be more than 150 g.

Raising of seedlings

  • Select a site with well-drained coarse textured soil near a dependable water source
  • Prepare the raised beds to avoid water stagnation during the rainy season
  • Sandy soil is the best for raising seedlings on a large scale
  • If the soil is not sandy, treat the soil with lindane as a precaution against white grub and termites.
  • Nursery can be raised either in the open with artificial shade or in gardens where the trees are tall and the ground is not completely shaded.
  • The seed nuts should be sown in long and narrow beds at a spacing of 40 x 30 cm during Ma y-June in 20-25 cm deep trenches. However, the length and width of nursery beds should be kept as per one’s convenience.
  • The seed nuts with less nut water and seed nuts of dwarf cultivars may be sown horizontally to ensure early germination. Discard nuts in which water has dried.
  • Before sowing it is advisable to dip seed nuts in a suspension of Lindane (400 g in 100 litres of water) as an additional precaution against white grub and termites.

Care and Management of Nursery

  • Regular watering is to be done after the rainy season
  • Mulching and shading should be done after the rainy season
  • Keep nursery free of weeds
  • Conduct regular surveillance for any incidence of pests and diseases

Selection of seedlings

Before transplanting selection of seedlings is of utmost importance. The following points will help in the selection of superior-quality seedlings

  • Select early germinated seedlings
  • Select seedlings that show early splitting, short petioles, and broad leaves
  • Select seedlings that are ready for transplanting in 9-12 months
  • Select seedlings with well-developed root systems
  • Select seedlings having thick and short collar region

Preparation of land and planting.

  • The depth of pits will depend upon the soil type.
  • Normally the pit size of 1.0 X 1.0 X 1.0 m is dug and filled up to 50 cm depth with sand and powdered cow dung.
  • However, when the water table is high, planting at the surface or even on mounds may be necessary but digging pits and filling has to be done.


In well-drained soil, seedlings can be transplanted at the beginning of southwest monsoon.

If irrigated facilities are available, it is advisable to take up planting at least a month before the monsoon sets in so that the seedlings get well established before the onset of heavy rains.

Care of young palms

  • Young palms require good care in the early of growth.
  • The transplanted seedlings should be shaded and irrigated properly, especially during the summer months.
  • The provision of proper drainage is also equally important in areas subject to water logging.
  • The pits should be cleared of weeds periodically.
  • Soil washed down by the rains and covering the collar of the seedlings should also be removed.
  • The pits should be gradually filled up as the seedlings grow.


  • As coconut yields throughout the year, it takes a heavy amount of nutrients from the soil, especially N, K, and Cl.
  • Therefore, regular Manuring from the first year of planting is essential to ensure good vegetative growth, early flowering and bearing, and high yields.
  • The first application of fertilizers should be done three months after planting (nearly 1/10th above dose).
  • During the second year, one-third of the dosage recommended for adult palm may be applied in two split doses,
  • And during the third year, 2/3 of the dosages recommended for adult palm may be applied and from the fourth year onwards, the full dose recommended may be applied.
  • After the receipt of summer showers, 1/3 of the recommended dose of fertilizers for a year may be spread around the palms within a radius of 1.8 m and forked in.
  • The remaining 2/3 of the recommended dose of fertilizer may be spread over 50 kg of the green leaf or compost per palm in circular basins of 1.8 m radius and 25 cm depth during September / October and the basins covered.

 Irrigation and soil moisture conservation

  • The coconut palm responds to summer irrigation.
  • Production of female flowers and setting percentage increases considerably due to irrigation.
  • Since spadix initiation to the ripening of nuts takes nearly 42 months, the full benefit of irrigation can be felt only after three years.
  • Under West Coast conditions, 2 cm irrigation once in 4-5 days from December to May is beneficial in sandy loam soils.
  • In areas where water is scarce, drip irrigation systems can be adopted.
  • This requires only 30 litres of water per day per palm as against 200 litres in conventional irrigation.
  • Burying the coconut husk or coir dust is one of the most effective ways of conserving soil moisture.
  • These husks are coir dust that can act as sponges and absorb and retain moisture about six times respectively to their weight and slowly release to the coconut periods during dry periods.
  • As the husk or dust breaks down slowly, their effect will last for 4 to 6 years and 8 to 10 years respectively.
  • On decomposition, they also add K to the soil.
  • These husks and dusts can be added in pits or trenches taken in between the trees but in all cases, the depth should be 0.6 m and 1.8 m away from the bole.
  • Husks or dusts can be added in alternate layers with soil.


  • Regular Inter-cultivation is very essential to step up and maintain production at a high level.
  • Tillage operations like digging the garden with a spade, ploughing, forming small mounds before the end of the monsoon, and making shallow basins with a radius of about 2 m at the beginning of the monsoon and filling up at the close of the monsoon are beneficial to the trees.
  • The method of Inter-cultivation will depend upon local conditions, availability of labour, size of holding, soil type, topography, and distribution of rainfall.
  • Cover cropping is recommended where inter and mixed cropping is followed to prevent soil erosion in coconut gardens.
  • Leguminous crops such as Mimosa invisa, Stylosanthes gracilis, and Calapogonium mucunoides are generally recommended.
  • Green manure crops like sun hemp (Crotalaria juncea) and Kolinji (Tephrosia purpurea) are also raised and ploughing during Aug-Sep.
  • These crops can be sown in APRIL- MAY when pre-monsoon showers are received.

Inter and mixed cropping

  • In a pure coconut garden when palms are spaced at 7.5 x 7.5 as much as 75% of the available area is not effectively utilized.
  • Besides, pure coconut grooves utilize only half of the available light.
  • Hence, a variety of intercrops like pineapple, banana, groundnut, chillies, sweet potato, and tapioca can be raised in coconut gardens after the palm attains a height of 5-6 m.
  • In older plantations cocoa, pepper, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg can be grown as mixed crops.
  • In places where rainfall is not well distributed, irrigation may be necessary during the summer months.
  • However, these crops are to be adequately, separately manured in addition to the manures applied to the coconut palm.
  • Mixed farming by raising fodder grasses such as hybrid Napier grass, and guinea grass along with leguminous fodder crops such as Stylosanthes grasilis.
  • Coconut gardens can support 4 –5 dairy animals.
  • The cattle manure generated from the system when applied to coconut gardens improves the soil fertility considerably.


About Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *