Although good varieties of coconuts have been known to exist in the
different coconut growing countries of the world, no serious attempts
were made to collect them and study them in detail at a representative
centre with a view to classify them systematically.
Most of the varieties are generally known
by the name of the locality where they are grown.
In some cases, the same variety is known
by different names in different countries.
About 50 years ago some of the important
varieties from reputed coconut tracts of India and nearby countries
were obtained by the Departments of Agriculture of Madras and former
Travancore - Cochin States and tried at their respective coconut farms
in the West Coast of India (Kerala).
Variety is generally a term designated
to denote a single strain or a group of strains which distinctly differ
in structural and functional characters from one another or a group
of the same species which can be depended upon to reproduce itself true
The cross-pollination prevailing in the
coconut has given rise to a highly variable progeny of palms.
The promiscuous crossing occurring in
the coconut is responsible for giving rise to a large scale multiplication
of single genetically heterozygous varieties widely varying from each
other or groups of closely related varieties.
In certain regions particularly in some
of the islands isolated from each other certain type suited to the locality
with well defined, relatively constant phenotypic characters were found
evolved possibly through generations of natural selection.
Coconut being a seed propagated crop,
requiring an unusually long period of pre-bearing life, the evolution
of promising varieties through breeding became a difficult and time-consuming
As the name indicates, the dwarf coconut
is small in stature and commences bearing earlier than the tall variety.
Dwarf coconut palms flower as early as
the third year after planting and come to regular bearing in the ninth
year, i.e. in about six years of first bearing.
The origin of the dwarf variety has not
been determined so far with any degree of accuracy.
These are mutant from the tall or common form due to some change
in genetic factors taking place at wright intervals leading to production
of palms with pronounced size differences.
These were reported to occur where large
coconut areas exist and in widely distributed places.
Although dwarf palms came into bearing
early and yielded well, the copra was inclined to be softner, more pliable
and leathery and not quite of such good quality as in that from tall
From these it is difficult to prepare hard copra and usually a large
proportion of wrinkled, distorted and rubbery copra is produced.
The Dwarf Variety
The Dwarf or short variety which has three
distinct forms, namely, those producing green, orange and yellow nuts,
is liked by some planters for its earliness in bearing and short stature
and attractive colour of the nuts.
The Dwarf palms are commonly known as
Nicobar or Andaman Dwarf and also by certain local names.
They begin to yield nuts in about three
to three and half years after planting and throw out bunches with fairly
large number of nuts.
The palms are, however, irregular in bearing
and susceptible to drought.
The bunches with attractive, coloured
nuts are generally used for decorative purposes.
The nuts are small in size and ovoid or
round in shape.
They are often harvested in the tender
nut stage for the sweet water which provides a cool and refreshing drink.
The copra obtained from the nut weighs
about 3 oz (85 gm) with 65 per cent oil content.
It is leathery and is not of much commercial
For these reasons it is considered as
an uneconomic variety.
Dwarf types from Malaya, Nigeria, Ceylon
and certain other places have been introduced at the Central Coconut
Research Station, Kasaragod and are under study.
This is the ordinary or the common tall
variety of palms most extensively grown on a plantation scale in all
coconut tracts of the world.
It is a long lived palm living generally
to an age of about 80 to 90 years, although sometimes older trees are
also met with.
The palms thrive well under different
soil conditions varying from littoral sands to red loams and laterites
and also under varying climatic and rainfall conditions.
It is observed to grow well up to an
altitude of 3,000 ft. above the sea level. It is fairly resistant to
diseases and pests.
The tree attains a height of about 15cm
to 18cm or more.
It begins to bear in about 8 to 10 years
The palms of this variety are generally
cross-pollinated in nature, although, in summer months there exist chances
of self pollination due to the overlapping of spadices.
After pollination, the nuts mature in
a period of 12 months.
The nut is medium to big in size varying
in shape from spheroid to linear-oblong and with colours varying from
green, yellow and orange to shades of brown.
The quality and quantity of copra form
nuts of this variety are satisfactory.
About 6,000 nuts yield a ton of copra.
These are generally the palms recommended
for large scale planting as they are superior to the dwarf palms
The West Coast Variety
Of the varieties of coconut available
in India, the West Coast variety, which is otherwise known as the ordinary
or common Tall variety, is the one that is extensively cultivated in
all the important coconut tracts of India and is of commercial importance.
This variety is found to grow well in
littoral sand as well as in the interior and up to an altitude of about
3,000 feet above sea level.
It has been in cultivation in India from
very ancient times and may, therefore, be considered as indigenous to
The West Coast variety is a long-lived,
hardy, multipurpose palm, yielding nuts, copra, oil and fibre of good
The tree also yields, on tapping, good
quantity and quality of coconut juice or toddy which can be fermented
or converted into jaggery or sugar.
this variety, growers recognize different sub-varieties or forms based
mostly on the colour and shape of nuts or bearing capacity.
The nuts of this variety are generally
of medium size, varying in shape from spheroid to linear with colour
varying from green, yellow, yellow-orange to shades of brown.
Some of the forms show variation in the
thickness of the husk and thickness of meat or kernel.
Trees yielding large number of medium-sized
round nuts in almost every leaf axil without any tendency for the bunches
to buckle or droop, are considered the best for planting on a large
The West Coast variety commences to yield
in about six to eight years after planting when grown under favourable
The time of first bearing may, however,
be prolonged to ten to fifteen years or even more if conditions are
unfavourable or adverse.
The yield varies according to the ecotypes
selected for cultivation and the conditions under which they are grown.
The average yield of copra per nut is
about 142 gm and the oil content in the copra is about 72 per cent by
chemical extraction on dry basis.
Chowghat dwarf : The dwarf types, Chowghat
green and orange are delicate and shortlived. They are easily susceptible
to diseases and pests. The out-turn of copra is low and the quality
is also poor. Chowghat dwarf green maintains high purity, while in dwarf
orange both self and cross pollination occur.
Laccadive and Maldive dwarf : These are
dwarf types of the Laccadive and Maldive Islands. They yield on an average
not more than 50 nuts per tree per annum. They give good copra both
in quality and in quantity. The copra content per nut is about 115 gm
to 145gm and the percentage of oil in the copra is about 71.
Andaman dwarf : This is a dwarf type from
the Andaman Islands. It is a poor yielder. The copra content per nut
is about 145 gm and the oil content in the copra is about 63 per cent.
Chenangi : This is dwarf type from Andhra.
Gangabondam : This belongs to the 'medium
dwarf' or 'semi-tall' type. The time of first bearing occurs in about
four years after planting. The nut matures in eleven months. It is a
prolific yielder. The nuts are elongated in shape, medium sized and
have fairly thick kernel. They give good quality copra. The copra content
per nut is about 230 gm and oil percentage in the copra is about 72.
Some progenies of the Dwarf Orange type
which are considered as natural crosses are found to turn out to be
Semi-Talls and give good yield of nuts and copra of good quality.
The seedlings which give rise to these
off-type palms are conspicuous in the nursery by their vigorous growth,
height, early splitting of leaflets and petiole colour, which are quite
distinct from those of the pure Dwarf seedlings.
Artificial crosses between the ordinary
Tall variety and the Dwarf variety have resulted in the production of
The Tall (female) X Dwarf (male) hybrids
are produced at the Coconut Research Stations at Kasaragod and Nileshwar.
These hybrids combine in them the early
bearing character of the Dwarf with the desirable copra character of
They are also short in stature and give
fairly high yields.
The nuts, however, are small when compared
to those of the Tall variety.
Consequently, the hybrids may not be liked
by the coconut growers who realise a good income from the sale of raw
husks required for retting purposes for the production of good quality
Of the two Dwarf types, Orange and Green,
the Orange Dwarf appears to be a better male parent for the production
of promising hybrids.
Crosses between some of the Semi Talls
and Talls have also given rise to economic hybrids.
Studies made so far have indicated the
need for selection of the parents on the basis of economic transmissible
characters for the production of good hybrids.
It has however, to be pointed out that
the progenies of hybrid palms should not be indiscriminately planted
as they will segregate for the parental characters and give rise to
undesirable dwarf palms.
It is a hybrid between East coastal tall
as female parent and Ganga bondam as male parent.
This variety is developed by scientists
of Agricultural Research station, Ambajipet, upto now 2 lack seedlings
are supplied for cultivation in Andhra Pradesh.
On National wide this variety can be
recommended for A.P and Tamil Nadu states.
This variety starts bearing from 6th
year and yields on an average of 140 fruits per tree. This hybrid contains
copra of 15 grm and oil content of 68%.
This variety resembles the ordinary West Coast variety.
The nuts are medium-sized. The yield per tree per annum is about 124
nuts. The copra content is about 142 gm and the oil content in the copra
is 72 per cent.
The palm resembles the ordinary West Coast variety in
stature, but the nuts are definitely small-sized and spheroid or linear
Large number of nuts are produced in a bunch and the
copra is of good quality. The palm is, however, an alternate bearer
and produces not less than 150 nuts per tree per year.
The copra content is only 57 gm but the oil content of
the copra is as high as 75 per cent.
This is a robust palm with tall and stout trunk. The
nuts are large, spheroid or ellipsoid in shape, the colour varying from
green to brown.
The nuts contain plenty of sweet water in the tender
nut stage. The quality of the copra is not as good as that of the West
The palm yields, on an average, in the gravelly soil
of the West Coast, about 65 nuts per tree per year.
It has a copra content of about 227 gm and an oil content
of 66 per cent.
This is a robust palm giving nuts which are large-sized,
spheroid in shape and coloured green to shades of brown.
The water in the tender nut is sweet and plentiful. It
yields about 86 nuts per tree per year.
The copra is of fair quality and weighs about 227 gm
per nut and has an oil content of 66 per cent.
This is a tall variety with fairly stout trunk. The nuts
are medium to large in size and round of somewhat elongated in shape.
It yields about 95 nuts per tree per year. The copra
is of good quality. It has a copra content of 198 gm and an oil content
of 66 per cent.
This is a fairly robust palm. The nuts are green in colour
and medium to large in size and ellipsoid in shape.
The water in the tender nut is sweet. The palm yields
about 50 nuts per tree per year.
The copra is of good quality and weights about 227 gm
per nut. The oil content of copra is 74 per cent.