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Coconut growing soils

Sandy Soils

  • The coconut palm can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions. It is particularly grown on the coastal belt on all tropical countries where light sandy and sandy-loam soil exists which is highly permeable and is assured with sub-soil water at a shallow depth, within easy reach to the roots.
  • The physical properties of sandy soil usually suit well for coconut cultivation, owing to its aeration and well drainage condition; even though they are characterised by poor in organic matter, low in mineral colloids and moisture retention capacity.
  • Sandy soil can support a good crop under a regular system of organic manuring and good management. Besides coastal sandy soil, coconut palms are grown in laterite alluvial and red sandy-soils with a pH ranging from 5.2 to 8.0

Laterite Soils

  • It has been found to grow well in gravelly and laterite soils. If laterite soil is chosen for coconut cultivation, it should be free from rock or hard pan up to a depth of one meter or more below the surface.
  • These soils need good decomposing organic matter and periodical timing to release constantly more of the 'fixing' phosphate nutrients.
  • It is a common practice to add one or 2 kg of common salt the bottom of the pits, in the laterite area for softening the rocky surroundings to aid root penetration. Increased soil aeration is gravelly areas enables the coconut palms for wide spread root system.
  • However, most of the nutrients are leached away in gravelly soils which has to be prevented by adding organic matter, neutralising the soil acidity through amendments and protecting rich surface soils in sloppy lands by terracing, contour bunding etc.,

Alluvial Soils

  • The texture of the alluvial soil is very good and suits most for coconut cultivation along the coast. It is highly porous, loose, excessively leached and well-drained.

Clayey Soils

  • Clayey soil is unsuitable for coconut cultivation because of its impermeability and indispensable drainage system. Moreover, water-logging is very common in clayey soil which the coconut palm does not tolerate. Moreover, stagnant wetness is injurious and hence marshy soil is unsuitable for coconut cultivation
  • In Karnataka, coconut growing area can be grouped in a few well-defined zones
  • Coastal sandy-soil tract of West.
  • Upland region between the Coast and hill slopes of South and North Kanara with low water table;
  • Laterite soils of hill slopes of the West Coast with gravels and low water table.
  • Sandy-loam soils with low water table in the summer.
  • (a) Loamy soils in the interior of Karnataka covered Tiptur, Arsikere belt; having less rainfall (80 mm), but with a fairly good supply of sub-soil water. (b) Red and black soils of maidan tract of Karnataka.
  • Forest soils.

 
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Climatic Requirements

  • The coconut palm is essentially a tropical crop which grows best in a warm humid climate.
  • It does not tolerate extremes of temperature and fails to come up well in places where long dry spell and severe cold conditions prevail.
  • Hence its distribution is almost confide to the tropical zones such as India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pacific Islands and West Indies, particularly in the coastal belts.
  • In this connection factors such as latitude, altitude, rainfall, temperature, humidity sunshine and wind velocity require detailed consideration.

Latitude and Altitude

  1. The coconut palm thrives well within 23° N and 23° S latitude. Even though it is grown as far as 27° N and 27° S, those palms put on good vegetative growth but exhibit poor nut yield and hence not grown in a commercial scale beyond 23 °> N and 23 ° S.
  2. Coconut is grown at different altitudes from saline seacoast to an elevation of 1000 meters. However, it is the temperature that determines the limits of altitude. Normally, an altitude of 600m appears to be the limit for commercial coconut cultivation.

Temperature

  • The coconut palm requires an equable climate which is neither very hot nor very cold. Thus, the temperature has great influence on the growth and productivity of the palm.
  • The temperature should be from 20 ° to 32 ° C, the optimum being 27 ° C for maximum growth and nut yield.
  • In places where the mean temperature is less than 15 °to 20 ° C, the palm does not flourish due to both physiological and morphological changes and the cold temperature upsets the fruiting.

Rainfall

  1. Coconut palm tolerates a wide range in distribution and intensity of rainfall, ranging from 1000 to 3000 mm/year. If the precipitation were comparatively well-distributed even a low rainfall of 1000 mm would suffice. In well -drained soils or those soils permit free movement of water a high precipitation of 2000 to 3000 mm can be of better advantage.
  2. However, high precipitation with high humidity and low temperature can upset the normal physiological functioning of the palm and also cause water logging of the area.
  3. Both heavy downpour during short rainy season and long dry spell are harmful to the coconut palm. As the palm has no tap roots, it is unsuitable to grow in a region where prolonged dry spell occurs.
  4. Failure to receive timely seasonal rains results in the abortion of spedices and hence adequate soil moisture should be ensured either through percolation of water or adequate supply of irrigation.
  5. Even in dry interior areas with a low annual rainfall of 500 to 800 mm like Tiptur and Arsikere in Karnataka, it is possible to grow coconut where sub-soil moisture is adequate at the depression of rolling lands and near valleys or adjacent to tanks.

Atmospheric Humidity

  • Warm humid climate is good for growth of coconut palm, but the persistent high humid conditions for a longer period reduces transpiration and uptake of nutrients and also encourages incidence of various diseases and pets particularly bud rot and leaf diseases. However, the monthly means of relative humidity should not fall below 60%.

Wind Velocity

  • In Tall palms, wind plays an important part in the dispersal of pollen and the fertilization of flowers; increases the evaporation of water, leading to its greater absorption. Windy atmosphere increases transpiration rates and helps in uptake of nutrients from the soil. If the wind is violent or storm occurs, it is difficult to protect the palms.

Sunshine

  • The coconut palm is a sun-loving plant and light demanding, as it requires plenty of sunshine. It tries to stand above other trees to gain more sunlight. It does not grow well under shade. In too cloudy weather, it fails to flower.
  • Lack of sunshine arrests the rate of transpiration also. About 2000 hours of length sunshine per year or 120 hours in a month are required under normal condition for coconut cultivation below which light becomes a limiting factor.

Solar Radiation

  • The leaf orientation and venation structure of coconut leaves permit sizeable amount of solar radiation on the crown to penetrate to leaves attached on lower levels.
  • The extent of this light transmission mostly varies with the number of functional leaves on the crown and the distance at which the palms grow.
  • The light incidence increases on the interspaces with the increase in age of the palms up to 20 years and thereafter filtered light reaches the lower profile of the canopy extending about 30% of the light incident to the ground at about 30 years of age.
  • Thereafter the amount of light penetrating the canopy increases with the age of the palms. With the increase of the height of palms, the amount of sunlight increases from the slant rays, due to progressive decrease in canopy coverage.

Sea-Coast Climate

  • Coconut palm is mostly grown bordering the coast, getting benefit from the humid climate throughout the year with less fluctuation of temperature and thus having its action in regulating the climate in a favorable way.
  • Nearness to the sea ensures adequate moisture, caused by the ebb and flow of the tide, which is beneficial to the palms.
  • The sub-soil water supply near the coast is better than those in the interior and is easily available at a depth of about 1 m within the easy reach of the coconut root zone and that too fresh water, free from salinity, even though it grows near to the sea.

 
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