Subject: Agricultural Science
Topic: Husbandry Of Selected Crops
Subtopic: Production of Coconut (Cocos nucifera)
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
- Explain the processes carried out in producing coconut,
- State the ways of propagated coconut,
- State the various pests and diseases that affect coconut growth.
PRODUCTION OF COCONUT
Coconut plant belong to the palm tree family (Arecaceae) and the only living species of the genus Cocos. The term “coconut” can refer to the whole coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which botanically is a drupe, not a nut. The name comes from the old Portuguese and Spanish word coco, meaning ‘head’ or ‘skull’ after the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. They are ubiquitous in coastal tropical regions, and are a cultural icon of the tropics.
Uses: Coconut palm provide human food, drink, oil, medicine, fibre, fuel and are used as raw materials in some industries for the manufacture of soaps, detergents, cosmetics and margarine. Coconut cake serves as a livestock feed.
Ecology: It grows in a wide range of soils but coastal and alluvial soils are best because of their good drainage, aeration and constant supply of water. Coconut can tolerate saline conditions, plenty of sunshine, a mean temperature of 27 – 32°C, a well distributed rainfall of 1200 – 2500mm per year and a pH range of 5.0 – 8.0.
The diagram below shows the structure of the coconut fruit:
Husbandry: Coconut is seed propagated and the seed nuts are planted in nurseries. Planting is best done in May and in polybags or in sand beds. The 500 gauge polybags are used and are spaced at 50cm in square pattern to give 100,000 seedlings/ha.
The seed nuts are planted with the stalk end of the fruit uppermost and visible above the soil surface. Sowing is closely followed by mulching. The nursery maintenance operations include regular watering, weeding and spraying with appropriate fungicides. Field establishment involves under brushing of the forest, felling of the forest trees, beating down, burning, marking of the planting positions, planting of the seedling and fixing of the wire collar 15cm away from the base of the seedlings.
Transplanting is done when the seedlings are 12 months old. Prepare pits of 90cm × 90cm × 90cm. The palm seedlings are planted in the pits with ball-of-earth at a stocking density of 205 tall to 320 dwarf palms per hectare. The pits are then filled with the preserved top soil and stamped down carefully after transplanting.
Weed control may be done by slashing or with herbicides or by planting leguminous cover crops. The palms should be ring weeded to a radius of 2m. Food crops like cassava, plantain, pineapple, yams and sweet potatoes may be intercropped with coconut palms at the early life of the plantation. Broadcast urea, superphosphate, muriate of potash or potassium sulphate and where necessary magnesium sulphate of 2m round each palm at the onset of the rainy season. Forked sticks are used to support heavy fruit bunches on the palm to avoid breaking of bunch stalks.
Harvesting: Coconut palms start fruiting from 4 – 5 years after planting. The coconut fruits mature in 12 months after flowering but the exact time for harvesting depends on what the farmer intends to do with the coconut products. Cutlasses and harvesting hooks are used in picking the mature fruits. The coconut products are sold locally but copra may be exported.
Pests: Coconut pests include rhinoceros beetles, palm weevils, coconut scale, termites, red ring nematodes, rats and grass cutter.
Diseases: Leaf spot, blast and bronze leaf wilt are the important diseases of coconut.
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Take a quick test for this lesson!
- What is the scientific name of coconut?
- Coconut is said to be vegetatively propagated, true or false?
- Termites is not among the pests of coconut, true or false?
- The coconut products are sold locally but __________ may be exported.
- Leaf spot, blast and _________ are the important diseases of coconut.
- Transplanting of coconut seedlings is done at what month?
- State three uses of coconut.
- Describe the husbandry of coconut.
- Mention the food crops that may be inter cropped with coconut at early life of plantation.
- Make a drawing of the coconut fruit.