Coconut is grown in more than 80 countries of the world with a total production of 49 billion nuts. India occupies a predominant position in respect of production of coconut in the world. The shares of coconut growing countries in production are: Indonesia (25.7%), Philippines (23.2%), India (23%), Sri Lanka (4.4%), others (13.7%) and other APCC countries (10%). The productivity of the crop is the highest in India with 7572 nuts/ha.
Traditional areas of coconut in India are the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Maharashtra and Islands of Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar. Non-traditional areas are the states of Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tripura, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
Four southern states put together account for 92% of the total production in the country (Kerala 45.22%, Tamil Nadu 26.56%, Karnataka 10.85%, Andhra Pradesh 8.93% and other states 8.44%).
Coconut is a crop of small and marginal farmers since 98% of about five million coconut holdings in the country are less than two hectares. In the west coast of India, the palm is an essential component in the homestead system of farming where it is grown as rainfed.
Agro – climatic requirements
The coconut palm thrives well under an evenly distributed annual rainfall ranging from 1000 mm to 3000 mm. The palm requires an equitable warm and humid climate neither very hot, nor very cold. The mean annual temperature for optimum growth and maximum yield is stated to be 27 degree Celsius with a diurnal variation of 6 0C to 7 0C. The coconut palm thrives well up to an altitude of 600 m MSL.
The coconut palm can tolerate wide range of soil conditions. But the palm does show certain growth preferences. A variety of factors such as drainage, soil depth, soil fertility and layout of the land has great influence on the growth of the palm. The major soil types that support coconut in India are laterite, alluvial, red sandy loam, coastal sandy and reclaimed soils with a PH ranging from 5.2 to 8.0.
Selection of Site :
Shallow soils with underlying hard rock, low lying areas subjected to water stagnation and clay soils should be avoided. Proper supply of moisture either through well distributed rainfall or irrigation and sufficient drainage are essential for coconut.
Preparation of Land :
Size of the pit depends on the soil type and water table. In laterite soils large pits of the size 1.2m X 1.2m X 1.2 m may be dug which are filled with coconut husk for moisture conservation. The husk is to be burried in layers with concave surface facing upwards. After arranging each layer, BHC 10% DP should be sprinkled on the husk to prevent termite attack. In laterite soils, common salt @ 2 kg per pit may be applied, six months prior, on the floor of the pit to soften the hard pans.
Spacing and Planting :
In general square system of planting with a spacing of 7.5m to 9 m is practised. This will accommodate 177 to 124 palms per hectare. Planting the seedlings during May with the onset of pre-monsoon rain is ideal.
The tall varieties are extensively grown throughout India while dwarf is grown mainly for parent material in hybrid seed production and for tender coconuts. The tall varieties generally grown along the west coast is called West Coast Tall and along the east coast is called East Coast Tall. Benaulim is the tall variety grown in Goa and coastal Maharashtra.
Laccadive Ordinary, Laccadive Micro, Tiptur Tall, Kappadam, Komadan and Andaman Ordinary are some of the tall varieties.
Chowghat Dwarf Orange, Chowghat Dwarf Yellow, Chowghat Dwarf Green, Malayan Yellow Dwarf and Malayan Orange Dwarf are some of the dwarf varieties grown in India. Gangabondam is a semi tall type grown in certain tracts of Andhra Pradesh. Many hybrid combinations of tall and dwarf are also grown in the country.