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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

NEW PLANTING OF COCONUT (PART 2)

COCONUT (Cocos nucifera) are an important crop in Malaysia and few other ASEAN countries. The  crop are categorised as ''Plant of Life'' from the locals as there are many uses from this plant.  have been receiving quite a few requests of late regarding information in setting-up a coconut plantation. While I would love to write a comprehensive coverage of all aspects involved in establishing a coconut plantation, it will be an enormous undertaking, and something that cannot be covered simply in blog posts.  Instead, I will give some basics of starting a new coconut plantation, the key cost elements and man-power management al all requirements. In Malaysia currently there are about 96,000 hectare of coconut planted able to produce 650 million nuts annually. However Malaysia import 150 million nuts from Indonesia for processing anually.  Actually there are a number of important stages when attempting to set up a successful coconut plantation. Now, a lot of people may think: “What’s so difficult? Just look for a germinated coconut, dig a hole, and plant it!”. Well, that method may work if all you want is a coconut tree, or if the coconuts are meant to be ornamental plants. But for a thriving, production coconut plantation, extra care and consideration will be needed. This few series article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I would like to share the stages of planting new coconut farms.

Previously in Malaysia the old popular variety is the Malayan Tall and for hybrid are known as MAWA hybrid coconut. The latest hybrid variety are MATAG whereby the production of seedlings is limited, since the MATAG has pretty much replaced the MAWA as the premium variety of coconut. However, it is sometimes possible to get planting materials from DOA, if you are lucky. The MAWA does not produce very large coconuts or tender nuts with a very high volume of coconut water; however it does produce a high quality and quantity of coconut milk, which is also very fragrant and sweet. MATAG and MAWA are hybrid coconut. But the premium coconut of choice for tender drinking nut production in Malaysia comes from a Dwarf variety: the Aromatic Green Dwarf, a.k.a. the Pandan Coconut. As its names say, the sweet coconut water is highly aromatic, with a strong resemblance to the scent of lightly bruised pandanus leaves. The medium-sized nuts good volume of coconut water, ranging around 600ml per nut, and the soft endosperm has a nice jelly-like consistency. Previously the premium variety fetches a very high ex-farm price, ranging around RM2.50 for a good sized nut. Retail prices often reach RM6.00 per nut, even at roadside stalls and eateries. Probably due to its popularity, it is hard to find seedlings in large quantities from a single source; the best sources are from Bukit Kayu Hitam (Kedah), Kajang (Selangor), and Jabatan Pertanian stations (the best is Teluk Intan, Perak).

For me the Pandan coconut palms is the most potential variety for drinks. More common, and in fact often frowned upon, are the Malayan Dwarf varieties. There are two important varieties: the Malayan Red Dwarf (MRD), and the Malayan Yellow Dwarf (MYD). Both two are look quite similar, except that the MRD produces fronds with reddish or orange rachis and red-orange nuts, while the MYD produces yellow-green rachis and bright yellow nuts. Both varieties are very common place in Malaysia, especially the MYD. They produce medium sized nuts that are either bright yellow or red-orange, and the coconut water of both are sweetish-sour tasting, and carries a faint buttery coconut aroma. The endosperm is often firmer, as the coconuts from these varieties are often harvested at an older age. Since these varieties are so commonplace in Malaysia, not many vendors actually sell fresh tender whole nuts; it is usually sold in the form of cups or jugs, with added sugar to increase the sweetness of the drink. You will usually find them being sold in the pasar malam and roadside stalls. The Young MRD coconut palms easier to plant due to the availability of seedling from Jabatan Pertanian prior to order. There are a few more aspects to consider when choosing the right coconut variety, but I shall not touch on those areas, since doing so will amount to me writing a book. What should be kept in mind is that while coconuts are often synonymous with the seaside, they actually do far better on inland and coastal alluvial soils, not sand. If you only have coastal (sandy) soils to plant, then go with only hybrids or Tall varieties; growth and yield of Dwarfs are negatively affected by the porous soil and saline water. The article continue for Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6 respectively. Thank You!... 

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Bandar Baru UDA,
Johor Bahru, Johor,
Malaysia.
(3 September 2018).

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