- Oil palm is a humid crop. Requires evenly distributed rainfall of 150mm/ month or 2500- 4000mm/annum. Rainfall distribution in India is not even and adequate. Hence grow oil palm under assured irrigation conditions by adopting recommended practices. Crop comes up well between 29-33oC max. and 22-24oC min. temperatures and with bright sunlight for at least 5 hrs. per day. Humidity of more than 80% is required to come up well.
Best-suited soils are moist, well-drained, deep, loamy alluvial soils, rich in organic matter with good water permeability. At least one-meter depth of soil is required. Avoid highly alkaline, highly saline, waterlogged and coastal sandy soils.
TENERA IS THE RULING HYBRID AND IT IS A CROSS BETWEEN THICK-SHELLED DURA AND SHELL LESS PISIFERA. TENERA HAS A THIN SHELL, MEDIUM TO HIGH MESOCARP CONTENT AND HIGH OIL CONTENT.
BEST METHOD OF SEASON FOR PLANTING IS JUNE-DECEMBER I.E., DURING MONSOON. IN CASE OF PLANTING DURING SUMMER, ADEQUATE IRRIGATION, MULCHING AND GROWING COVER CROPS LIKE SUN HEMP IN THE BASIN WOULD HELP IN AVOIDING HOT WINDS DURING SUMMER. 12 -14 MONTHS OLD HEALTHY SEEDLINGS WITH 1-1.3M HEIGHT AND 13 FUNCTIONAL LEAVES ARE RECOMMENDED FOR PLANTING. WHILE PLANTING, 143 PLANTS PER HECTARE SHOULD BE MAINTAINED WITH A SPACING OF 9M X 9M X 9M (TRIANGULAR PLANTING). PLANTING SHOULD BE DONE IN PIT SIZE OF 60 CM X 60 CM X 60 CM (LENGTH, BREADTH AND DEPTH).
FERTILIZER APPLICATION & MANURE:
APPLY 250G DI AMMONIUM PHOSPHATE OR 400G SINGLE SUPER PHOSPHATE, 50G PHORATE AND MIX WITH THE SOIL AT THE BASE OF THE PIT. IMMEDIATELY AFTER PLANTING, FORM BASIN AND GIVE COPIOUS IRRIGATION.
Oil palm is a gross feeder and demands a balanced and adequate supply of macro, secondary and micronutrients for growth and yield. It is advised to apply fertilizers at every three months interval.
Fertilizer requirement of oil palm:
Four equal split doses of fertilizers are to be applied starting from June/July at three month interval. For the newly planted crop, the first dose of fertilizer needs to be applied three months after planting. Add 50-100 kg FYM or 100kg green manure per palm along with the second dose of fertilizer application. Five kg neem cake/palm can also be applied. Broadcast the fertilizers around the clean-weeded basin, about 50 cm away from the palm base and incorporate into the soil with the help of fork. Irrigate the palms immediately after Mfertilizer application.
3rd Yr onwards
During first year, basins of 1-m radius, second year 2- m radius, and the third year 3- m radius are to be taken around the palm by removing the soil from inside so that the soil will not accumulate at the collar region. Basin area of oil palm represents its active root zone. Hence it must be kept clean and weed free to avoid competition for nutrients and water
Take up regular weeding manually or with the use of only recommended herbicides. Use preferably contact herbicides. Glyphosate (750ml/ha/year or 17.5 ml/basin) is recommended for effective weed control. Herbicide mixtures of Paraquat with Atrazine, Monuron and Diuron sprayed on ground, twice a year can control the weeds, effectively.
Oil palm is a wide spaced perennial crop with a long juvenile period of 3 years. Inter and intra row space can be used to generate income during the juvenile phase of the crop. Inter crop selected should be compatible with the main crop and should not compete with oil palm for light, water and nutrients. Any remunerative crop can be grown, but the most suitable crops are vegetables, banana, flowers, tobacco, chillies, turmeric, ginger, pineapple etc. While growing inter crops in mature oil palm gardens of 8- 12 years age or palms attained a height of 3 meters, intercrops should be able to grow under partially shaded conditions and should not compete with oil palm for water, sunlight and nutrients (eg. cocoa, pepper, heliconia and ginger lilly). Do not cut the oil palm fronds. Do not tie oil palm fronds close to the stem for inter-cropping, which will reduce photosynthetic activity. Do not plough close to the palm base, which will cut the absorbing roots and thereby reduce intake of water and nutrients. Maximum number of green leaves should be retained on the palm.
Oil palm comes to flowering 14-18 months after planting. It produces both male and female flowers separately on the same palm. Male and female phases do occur naturally in consequent cycles in a palm.
Ablation is the removal of male and female flowers produced in the early stages of plantation. This enables the plant to gain adequate stem girth, vigour and develop adequate root system. Flowering starts from 14th to 18th month after planting. Start ablation immediately after the appearance of inflorescences on the palms. They can be removed easily by hand pulling or using the tool developed at DOPR. Ablation can be extended up to 2-1/2 to 3 years depending upon the plant growth and vigour.
Oil palm is a highly cross-pollinated crop. Wind and insects assist pollination, but wind pollination is not adequate. Effective pollinating insects like Elaeidobius kamerunicus helps in good pollination and fruit set. Release of this weevil after 2-1/2 year of planting is advisable. If the plants are not having good girth and vigour, release the weevils after 3 years.
While harvesting a stalk length of 5 cm alone should be left. Harvesting should be done at 10-12 days interval. During rainy season, harvesting should be done at closer interval of 6- 7 days as ripening is hastened after hot summer. In young plantations, we get more bunches with less bunch weight and in adult plantations the bunch weight is more but the bunch number is less.
At yield stabilizing period (4-8 years): 12t/ha At yield stabilized period (>8 years): 20t/ha