Coconut (Cocos nucifera): Distribution, Requirements for Coconut Cultivation, Disease Control
Species: Cocos nucifera
It is said to have originated in the South-West Pacific or the Indian Ocean was domesticated in Malaysia and is now found on the shores and islands of Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. It is now found in over 90 countries. Between the latitudes of 20°N and 20°S of the equator, it thrives at heights below 1000 m and in coastal areas. India is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of coconuts. Indonesia, the Philippines, and India are the primary coconut producers.
The coconut palm is one of the few plants that bloom all year long (Punjab & Haryana) Insects and bats are among the visitors to the flowers. Annual coconut production in India is 23,904 million nuts from a 20.8 lakh hectare area, with an average yield of 11,481 coconuts per hectare. The edible kernel, oil, shell, tender coconut water, fibre, building material from the frond and trunk, edible ‘heart-of-palm’ or cabbage from the growing point, sap from the inflorescence, sugar, fuel, and industrial uses include soaps, detergents, and bio-diesel are just a few of the products derived from the coconut palm. Wind and insects are the primary pollinators in coconut. Coconut pollen has a bigger size (20-40 m) than other anemophilous pollens (Moore, 2001). Although entomophily is thought to be the most common pollination method. An adaptation for anemophily is a noticeable groove along the pollen grain (pollen distributed by the wind).
Requirements for Coconut Cultivation
Although coconut is a tropical plant, it has been discovered to grow in a variety of agroclimatic settings. The ideal annual temperature for best growth and maximum yield is 270 degrees Celsius, with a diurnal fluctuation of 60 to 70 degrees Celsius and relative humidity of more than 60%. Up to 600 metres above mean sea level, the coconut palm thrives. The coconut palm can withstand yearly rainfall ranging from 1000 to 3000 mm if it is evenly distributed. However, for optimum growth and larger yields, a well-distributed rainfall of roughly 2000 mm is ideal.
Coconut palms may grow in a variety of soil types. However, there are some growth preferences for the palm. The growth of the palm is influenced by several elements, including drainage, soil depth, soil fertility, and site layout. Laterite, alluvial, red sandy loam, coastal sandy, and reclaimed soils with a pH of 5.2 to 8.0 are the most common soil types that support coconut in India.
Selection of Site
Coconut farming requires soil that is at least 1.2 metres deep and has a good water retention capacity. Avoid shallow soils with underlying hard rock, low-lying places with stagnant water, and clayey soils. Coconuts require a consistent supply of moisture, whether from rain or irrigation, as well as adequate drainage.
Coconut trees should be planted in a square system with a spacing of 7.5m x 7.5m. There will be 177 palm trees per hectare. In some coconut-growing parts of the country, however, spacing of 7.5 to 10 metres is used.
Planting Material & Planting
For planting in the main field, choose vigorous seedlings that are at least a year old, have at least six leaves and have a girth of 10 cm at the collar level. Early leaf splitting in seedlings could be used as a criterion for selecting high-quality seedlings. For planting in waterlogged locations, however, 18 to 24-month-old seedlings are ideal. It’s best to plant the seedlings in May when the pre-monsoon rains are starting to fall.
Coconuts are collected at different times throughout the year. The frequency varies depending on the yield of the trees in different places. Bunches are produced regularly in well-maintained and high-yielding gardens, and harvesting is done once a month. After the opening of the spathe, coconuts mature in around 12 months. The ripe coconut is the source of the majority of coconut goods. Eleven-month-old nuts provide high-quality fibre and can be harvested in areas where green husks are needed for the production of coir fibre. The coconut palm has a 60-year economic life.
Chemical constituents in coconut fruit include:
1. Lauric acid, a crystalline fatty acid found in 45-52% of coconut oil as glycerides, is transformed to monolaurin, a monoglyceride. It’s an effective antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-protozoal.
2. Myristic acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil in concentrations ranging from 16 to 21 per cent, is often employed as a flavouring ingredient and helps to stabilise many proteins. Coconut oil contains antifungal compounds such as caprylic acid (5-10%) and caproic acid (0.5-1%). The Candida yeast’s cell walls are disrupted by these acids. Capric acid is an antiviral and antimicrobial substance with potent antiviral and antimicrobial effects.
3. Palmitic acid has antioxidant properties due to the medium-chain fatty acids it contains, which are used for energy and do not raise cholesterol levels.
4. Linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, an essential fatty acid, potent anti-oxidant, anticarcinogen, and a powerful immune system enhancer, is effective in children with cystic fibrosis due to essential fatty acid deficiency due to malabsoption, as well as dermatitis, which is one of the first signs of essential fatty acid deficiency in humans. Vitamin E, hydration, and protein suspensions are among the other ingredients present. All of these components contribute to the health advantages.
Utilisation of Coconut
The country’s coconut business is mostly limited to traditional activities including copra production, oil extraction, coir production, and toddy tapping. Virgin coconut oil, desiccated coconut, coconut water-based vinegar, and coconut water are among the items produced. Coconut milk-based beverages, coconut chips, coconut-based handicrafts, shell powder, shell charcoal, and shell-based activated carbon, on the other hand, are produced on a small scale in the country. Neera, a nonalcoholic health drink made from coconut water, is gaining popularity in places such as Karnataka and Maharashtra. One of the key segments that use coconut by-products, primarily the husk, is the coir and coir-based industry.
A vast range of pests and illnesses impact the growth and development of Cocos Nucifera. Pestalotiopsis palmarum, Phytophthora spp., Ganoderma spp., Maramielliouus cocophilus, Pestalotiops Insects and oryctes are examples of pests.
Phytophthora spp., often known as bud rot and nutfall, is a disease that affects 14 to 40-year-old coconut palms. It may be found in all coconut growing countries and is encouraged by excessive rainfall. Oomycetes induce chlorosis in leaves, a terrible odour, pink lesions, and inflorescences that abort nuts. Its treatment control relies on proper sanitation and the application of systemic fungicides to remove infected waste from the plantation, as well as the habit of irrigating trees early in the morning to allow the surfaces to dry.
Ganoderma spp., commonly known as Ganoderma butt rot, is caused by fungi, and the symptoms range from old fronds turning yellow, wilting, and falling to fronds collapting and dying, the interior tissue of the lower stem becoming discoloured, and the plant’s general vigour being noticeable. Fungicides are used to control it.
Chalara paradoxa, also known as stem bleeding disease, is a fungus-caused soft yellow rot on the trunk, with darkened and blackened infected patches and a reddish-brown liquid oozing from the roots. Infected trees should be removed and burned, and the disease is treated using machinery and instruments to limit disease incidence and sprays of the fungicide benomyl (Plant village)
Pseudotheraptus wayi, popularly known as the Coconut bug, is the most common pest of Cocos nucifera. It is a brownish insect with well-developed wings. The coconut bug is a serious hazard to coconut palms in Africa, causing damaged and aborted blossoms, necrotic lesions, scarring on nuts, and the death of young nuts. Two of these bugs per calm can cause serious harm. Weaver ants, which effectively eradicate this pest, are the most effective management for this problem.
V-shaped incisions in palm fronds and holes in the leaf midribs are caused by Oryctes rhinoceros, also known as the Coconut rhinoceros beetle (Plant Village). The treatment entails eliminating any deteriorating logs in the plantation as well as burning any larvae that may be present. Because females do not lay eggs in vegetated regions, removing larvae from the crowns with wire or growing a “cover crop” will reduce egg-laying.