|Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.)
French: Cocotier; Spanish: Cocotero; Italian: Cocco; German: Kokosnusspalme
Perennial. Harvested part: mature nuts (11 1/2-12 month-old), tender nuts (7-8 month-old).
Planted any time of the year, but preferably at start of rainy season.
Flowers: tall varieties 4 1/2-5 years from field-planting; dwarf varieties 2-3 years from field-planting; dwarf x tall hybrids 3-4 years from field-planting.
Differentiation of flower primordia: 22 months before flowering.
Nut maturity: 12 months after complete pollen fertilization of female flowers (buttons); 1 nut bunch matures each month; 10-14 bunches per palm at different maturity stages at any one time.
Planting density: 100-200 trees/ha on square system or 115-236 trees/ha on tri-angular system with 7 to 10 m spacing (dwarf varieties are planted at 7-8 m, hybrids at 8-8.5 m and tall varieties at 9-10 m spacing.
Preferably grown on deep, well-drained, light to medium textured soils, pH 6-7, rich in organic matter, high in fertility level (including soil chloride).
The crop is grown commercially between latitudes 20 °N and 20 °S; at altitudes of 600 m or less; with temperature range 24-29 °C, relative humidity 80-90 %, rainfall 1 500-2 300 mm evenly distributed throughout the year.
Generally, the crop is not irrigated except for seed production (seed gardens).
Average annual yields of 80-150 nuts per tree (2-4 t/ha of copra) are attained under favorable growing conditions, depending on the variety or hybrid type.
One hectare of coconuts (average of 150 palms) producing 12-14 leaves and 100 nuts/tree/year contains in the harvest (matured bunches) the following amount of nutrients (per year): 49 kg N, 16 kg P2O5, 115 kg K2O, 5 kg Ca, 8 kg Mg, 11 kg Na, 64 kg Cl and 4 kg S. The husk contains 60 % of the K2O, 18 % of N and 26 % of Mg removed in the harvest. It is therefore recommended that wastes such as coconut husks and leaf fronds be left in the field to undergo decomposition and mineralisation so that nutrients eventually return to the crop.
Plant analysis data
In foliar diagnosis, a composite sample of palms grown under similar conditions is collected at intervals. For a particular stage or age of coconuts, leaf sampling is done on the selected leaf rank (number) of the palm based on its phyllotaxy. Depending on the average count of living or functional leaves at sampling time, a guide to the proper leaf rank to be sampled was recommended by Magat and Prudente (1979) as follows:
The most common fertilizer combination is AS plus KCl thus supplying the four nutrients widely deficient in coconut soils: N, K2O, Cl and S.
Timing and frequency of application
Pre-bearing stage (vegetative), usually 1-3 year old coconuts: annual rate/palm in split application, half at the start of rainy season and half 6 months after or about a month before end of the rainy season. In areas with almost even distribution of rainfall throughout the year, apply first half of fertilizer anytime and the remaining half 6 months later.
Bearing stage: annual rate/palm in a single application, for areas with an even rainfall distribution (1.5-3 dry months) or in split applications for areas with distinct dry and rainy seasons.
Method of fertilizer application
First, circle-weed (remove all weeds) around the base of the palm, with a radius of 0.5-0.75 m for young palms and 1-1.5 m for bearing palms. Then, broadcast the fertilizer to each tree as uniformly as possible over the circle-weeded area. Finally, incorporate the broadcast fertilizer (to a depth of 5-8 cm) with the use of a suitable digging tool. This is necessary for N fertilizers (like ammonium sulfate) to minimize losses due to volatilization.
On steeply sloping and hilly areas, place the fertilizer, equally distributed, in 10-12 holes (10-15 cm deep and 7-10 cm wide) within 1-2 m radius around the base of palm.
Present fertilizer practices:
Philippines (Southeast Asian Region)
Most coconut areas in the Philippines are widely deficient in N, Cl, S and K2O and adquate in other nutrients. Generally, liming is not needed as coconut has a wide adaptability to soil acidity (pH 4.5-8).
The most common nutritional deficiency is N, followed by K and Mg. In certain areas, problems of Cl, P205, Ca and B exist (Mahmud and Allorerung, 1988). Current fertilizer recommendations widely used in the country are based on results of leaf analysis and soil analysis of field experiments and surveys.
Another fertilizer recommendation is based on altitude and soil type:
Nitrogen deficiency is common in all coconut soils, while P2O5, K2O and MgO levels are inadequate in some areas, particularly on acid, peaty and sandy soils. The fertilizers used for high yielding hybrid coconuts in Malaysia are as follows:
The widely deficient nutrients in the country are N, P2O5, K2O and MgO. Countrywide, fertilizer application increases nut yield from 16 nuts to 72 nuts/tree per year (De Silva, 1981). The CRISL provides general fertilizer mixtures 13-12-17 and 12-6-32.
Based on fertilizer trials on West Coast Tall variety, Tall x Dwarf hybrids and Dwarf x Tall hybrids, general fertilizer recommendation (for palms yielding at least 50 nuts/palm per year) is as follows:
Cote d'Ivoire (West Africa)
The main nutrients deficient are K2O, P2O5, MgO and N.
JAYASEKERA, K.S.: Status of Nutritional Deficiencies of Coconut in Sri Lanka. UNDP/FAO Working Group Meeting on Coconut Nutritional Deficiencies, 28-30 Sept 1988, Davao City, Philippines,TCDC-FAO/UNDP (1988)
MAGAT, S.S.: The use of leaf analysis in the coconut field fertilizer trials in the Philippines. Phil. Journal of Coconut Studies 4(1), 32-39 (1979)
MAGAT, S.S.; MARGATE, R.Z.: The Nutritional Deficiencies and Fertilization of Coconut in the Philippines. Philippine Coconut Authority, R & D Tech. (Report No. 2), Philippines (1989)
MANCIOT, R. et al.: Mineral Nutrition and Fertilization of Coconut around the World. Oléagineux 34(11), 500-515 (1979)
ROGNON, F.: Coconut. In: MARTIN-PREVEL, P.; GARNARD, J.; GAUTIER, P. (eds.): Plant analysis as a guide to the nutrient requirement of temperate and tropical cops. Lavoisier Publishing Inc., New York, USA (1984)
Author: S.S. Magat, Agricultural Research and Development Branch, Philippine Coconut Authority