School Science Lessons
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Coconut Project
: Coconuts

Table of contents

1.0 Coconut project

1.1 Cocos nucifera, Tall palms and Dwarf palms

18.7 Talls and Dwarfs (characteristics)

13.0 Climate

1.2 Origin and distribution of coconuts

2.0 Coconut cultivars

2.0a Commercial varieties

2.1 Breeds of coconuts

2.2 Coconut definitions

2.3 Cocos nucifera chemicals

3.0 Leaves (fronds), life cycle

4.0 Stem (trunk)

5.0 Roots (adventitious roots)

6.0 Flowers (Inflorescence)

7.0 Pollination & fertilization

8.0 Seed and fruit (drupe)

9.0 Germination

9.1 Tissue culture

10.0 Collecting seed nuts (fruit) for planting

11.0 Propagation, pre-nursery and nursery

12.0 Transplanting seedlings, polybags

12.1 Field planting of seedlings

14.0 Harvesting, denutting

15.0 Pests and diseases

13.0 Copra

17.0 Coconut oil

16.0 Uses of the coconut palm

14.0 Opening a coconut

6.20.0 Records

1.0 Coconut project
1. The aim of the coconut project is to teach students how to grow coconuts well to produce a high yield.
The yield could be calculated in coconuts per unit of labour or yield of copra per hectare.

2. Copra and virgin coconut oil are very important export crop commodities.
Two kinds of growers make copra and coconut oil, the big foreign owned plantations and the small plantations owned by villagers.
Plantations run by villagers may not produce as much as they could.
The aim of this teaching unit is to show students how they can increase production in village plantations.
They can only learn these things if they do them.

3. To teach this project, use the following:
3.1 A coconut plantation near the school.
Ask the owners for permission to gather seed nuts from about one hectare of coconut palms.
3.2 A small sunny area in the school grounds for a pre-nursery and a nursery. Palms must not shade this area.
Build a small fence around the area to keep out horses, cattle or goats if they are near the school.
3.3 Build a copra drier that also can be adapted to drying for virgin oil production.
The best drier for your project is a small hot air drier.
For a start, use a sun drier, but this document does not recommend continual
use of it.
3.4 For raising seedlings in plastic polybags, get 40 bags from the Department of Agriculture.
3.5 Prepare to take students outside to see coconut palms that have many fruits, only a few fruits, and no fruits.
3.6 The coconut palm gives us food, drink, and building materials.
Coconut palms may have many fruits or few fruits if they are overcrowded and over-shaded.
Very old palms produce few fruits.

1.1 Cocos nucifera, Tall palms and Dwarf palms
Coconut varieties, Daley's Fruit Trees
Cocos nucifera, Coconut palm (kelapa Malaysia), Old world tropical plant, Family Arecaceae (Palmae)
Cocos nucifera, cv. Dwarf, Dwarf coconut palm, horticultural plant, Family Arecaceae (Palmae)
Coconut palm structure
The coconut palm has the scientific name Cocos nucifera L.
(The "L" after the name just means that the name was given it by the Swedish naturalist Linnaeus, 1707-78).
It is a monocotyledon in the palm family, Family Palmae.
The word "cocos" is Macau Portuguese language for monkey, because the 3 germination pores (the "eyes") look like a monkey's face.
The word "nucifera" means "bearing coconuts".
In the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit the words for coconut palm mean "tree of life" or "tree that supplies everything needed for life".
The cells are diploid, 2n = 32.

Coconuts are divided into "Tall palms", var. typica, that are cross pollinated and heterozygous, and "Dwarf palms", var. nana, that are
self-pollinated and homozygous.
The French word for dwarf, nain, is used for Dwarf palm coconuts, e.g. "nain rouge", "nain jaune" and "nain verte" for red, yellow and
green Dwarf palms.
In the western Solomon Islands, the word for coconut is "ngohara".
Throughout Polynesia the word for coconut is "niu".
The best known varieties are "niu vai", a large fruit supplying lots of water, and "niu kafa", a large elongated fruit rich long-used for
making ropes.
Also, "niu papua" is a small-fruited red Dwarf palm found in French Polynesia.
It was probably brought there from Papua New Guinea by missionaries.
One Hindi name for coconut begins with "kalpa" so it may be linked with "kelapa", the word used in the Indonesian language.
Long ago, people from India came to what is now Indonesia and perhaps brought their name for coconut that changed with time.

1.2 Origin and distribution of coconuts
Coconuts probably grew originally in South Asia, Malaysia and Polynesia.
The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama took coconuts to the Atlantic Ocean in the 15th Century.
Spanish navigators took coconuts to the Caribbean region in the 16th Century.
Some islands in the South Pacific region already had coconuts growing on them when the Polynesian peoples brought their own special
varieties when they populated the islands, travelling by canoe.
Polynesians introduced coconuts to Hawaii in the 12th century.

Coconuts were introduced to the Atlantic region by the Portuguese.
They were brought from the Indian Ocean in 1498 by Vasco da Gama's expedition and in the 1500's, the Portuguese established
coconut palms along the West African coast, on the Cape Verde archipelago and on the coastline of Brazil.
Coconuts had been introduced to the West Indies by 1582.
Commercial planting of coconut palms began in the mid-l800's and was linked to the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1835.
High labour crops such as sugar cane and cotton were in some areas, e.g. the Seychelles, were replaced by low labour coconut
Palms in large commercial plantations of the Indo-Pacific region, e.g. the Philippines, now outnumber by a large margin those growing

2.0 Coconut cultivars (coconut varieties)
| See diagram 53.2: Some varieties of coconuts
1. Cultivars
A cultivar is a cultivated variety, i.e. a natural variety selected for agriculture.
The natural home of the coconut is the coarse textured sandy soil near the beach, reached by king tides and tidal surges.
Coconut palms need a daily mean temperature above 21oC and 120 hours of sunshine per month to grow to maturity and produce
full rounded fruits.
The main varieties of coconuts are Tall palms, "Talls", and Dwarf palms, "Dwarfs".
The talls are usually slower to produce, have large and abundant fruits, but are susceptible to lethal yellows disease.
The dwarf varieties are earlier, and fruits are smaller, but trees are resistant to lethal yellows.
Hybrids are the best.

2. Tall palms
Tall varieties, the most common in commercial production, are slow to mature, grow to 20 -30 metres, have thicker trunks, larger
crowns and bigger fruit.
They have 3-sided egg shape coconuts.
They flower 6-10 years after planting and produce coconuts for 60 -70 years or longer.
Tall palms have a big bole at the base of the trunk.
Tall palms include the Solomon Islands Tall palm with about 25 to 30 leaves and green or brown coconuts.
The Rennell Islands Tall palm has the bottom of the trunk without a rounded bole but swells out at the bottom.
It has a few very large coconuts on each bunch.
The "hundred coconuts" variety has many small coconuts on each bunch.
Other Tall palm varieties include the Rotuman Tall palm, Fiji Tall palm, Kiribati Tall palm, and Samoan Tall palm.

The Tall palms are divided into two groups:
2.1 The "wild" Tall palms are still found on some remote islands and have angular fruits, up to 15 cm in diameter, with a thick husk
and shell.
2.2 The "domesticated" Tall palms that have a larger rounded fruit, up to 25 cm diameter and thinner husks caused by human selection.
Coconuts from both groups can float.
Coconut "seed" is classified as "drift seed" and the coconut palm is classified as a "strand plant", because it grows in colonies around
the fringes of tropical beaches.

Coconuts evolved in the Indonesian archipelago and it grows throughout the Pacific region, because of its buoyant fruit remaining viable
up to six months.
Seeds wash up on tropical island shores where they start germinating at the upper limit of wave reach.
Male and female flowers are on the same plant (monoecious), so a single coconut seed can start a new colony.

3. Dwarf palms
Dwarf varieties, the result of domestication, have no bole at the base and the trunk is thinner, so they are more easily damaged by
strong winds.
They grow to 8 -10 metres.
Dwarf palms flower three years after planting and produce coconuts for 30 to 40 years.
Although more difficult to grow, they bear earlier than Tall varieties and are resistant to lethal yellowing disease.
The leaf scars are close together on the trunk.
They are self-pollinated, so if you find a Dwarf palm bearing many fruit, these will be good for seed nuts, because they have the same
father and mother.
Pure Dwarf palms are not used in plantations, because the coconuts are too small and the meat (kernel, endosperm) is soft and
difficult to separate from the shell.

2.0a Commercial varieties
1. Dwarf coconut "Malay Gold" variety
See diagram: "Malay Gold" variety
It produces bronze to red-coloured fruit and has a tapering trunk with a bulbous base, and will grow outside of the tropics,
in a warm and sheltered position of a coastal location.
It need a free-draining soil and should be planted deep with a deep organic surrounding mulch.
2. See diagram: Dwarf yellow variety
This yielding precocious hybrid selection needs a warm sheltered coastal location, free draining soil and planted deep with
a deep surrounding organic mulch
3. Dwarf Coconut "Malay Red" variety
See diagram: Malay Red" variety
These high yielding precocious hybrid selections are best grown warm sheltered tropical free draining soil and
planted deep with a deep organic mulch surrounding them.
4. Dwarf Coconut " Samoan Orange" variety
See diagram: "Samoan Orange" variety
It produces giant coconuts, if planted in wet tropical conditions in a location with full sun and irrigation for dry periods.

The Dwarf palms are divided into three groups:
3.1 The stumpy or Niu Leka Dwarf palm of the Pacific islands has small medium sized coconuts used for drinking.
3.2 The Village Dwarf palm of the Pacific islands has small elongated yellowish fruit.
3.3 The Nias Dwarf palm from Indonesia and Malaysia has medium size fruit with distinct green, brown and orange colours.

4. Crossbreeding has developed many hybrids between Tall palms and Dwarf palms.
Hybrids are grown in plantations for their high production.
Hybrid palms come from crossing of two different varieties, e.g. a Tall palm father and a Dwarf palm mother.
The hybrid palms are shorter than the Tall palms, so there are fewer risks from coconut fall.
Hybrid palms can be harvested at maturity with a knife on a long stick or by easy climbing, instead waiting for the coconuts to fall to
the ground.

5. Visit coconut plantations or wild stands of coconuts near the school.
Look for Tall palms and Dwarf palms, different kinds of Tall palms, wild and domesticated Tall palms and hybrids.
With permission, collect coconuts from the different kinds of coconuts then draw and measure them.

2.1 Breeds of coconuts
Some coconuts are from a good breed so they always produce many coconuts, but other palms may be from a poor breed and not
carry many coconuts.
Use good breeds of seed nuts so that the palms will bear well.
In the first few years of a new planting, replace damaged or lost plants with good breeds.
The coconut palm can live for 100 years although its peak production is between 15 to 30 years, after which production declines.
Replace older palms with new palms of varieties that suited the local area.
The two most important hybrids are Tall X Dwarf (T X D) and Dwarf X Tall (D X T).
Plantations using Dwarf palm X Tall palm hybrids must replace them earlier than when using only Tall palms, because the dwarf
variety is shorter in stature and its life span is short compared to the tall varieties.

2.2 Coconut definitions
See diagram 53.9.0: Early germination, Late germination
In this document, the coconut growing on a coconut palm is called a "fruit".
The fruit is a fibrous drupe, not a nut.
Also, a seed nut planted in a coconut nursery is a fruit.
The fruit wall consists of:
1. outer skin, exocarp,
2. layer of husk fibres, mesocarp,
3. hard brown shell, endocarp.
The round coconut sold in shops, the "nut", the dehusked coconut, is the seed + shell (endocarp).
The husk is the outer skin (exocarp) + layer of husk fibres (mesocarp).

2.3 Cocos nucifera chemicals
| Decanoic acid, C10H20O2, 7% of coconut oil | Fucosterol | Hexanoic acid | Nonalactone | Octanoic acid | Sorbitol |
3.0 Leaves life cycle
See diagram 53.3: Leaf life cycle, Frond (leaf)
All leaves from a leaf crown
1. Leaf or frond, sword leaf, in terminal crown seedling leaf and all leaves at first entire, fused leaflets, in fibrous leaf sheath, spear --->
2. Cotyledon --> first green leaf
3. Leaflets, pinnae 1. lamina
4. Midrib, rachis 1. lamina
5. Leaf stalk, petiole
6. Leaf base + fibrous sheath.

1. The first leaves produced by the seeding have a single vertical leaf blade (spear leaf), consisting of leaflets joined at the edges.
The lamina of the first leaves are without any toothing or division, i.e. entire lamina. A seedling has about 10 entire leaves.
Later the lamina of the entire leaves separate into leaflets caused by splitting between the leaf veins, to form a compound leaf, i.e. a
frond or pinnate frond.
The palm bears the fronds at the top of the palm in a terminal radiating crown.
Note when the first frond forms, because this happens sooner in Dwarf palms, and is a way to identify Tall palm and Dwarf palm

The parts of the frond are the leaf base, leaf stalk (petiole), midrib (rachis), and leaflets (pinnae).
Each side of a frond has about 100 leaflets.
The bottom of the frond stalk has a broad leaf base with a cushion on the underside connected to the trunk, and a keel or thick body
to strengthen it.
The leaf stalk is grooved on the upper surface.
Bits of fibre are attached to each side of the leaf base to form a fibrous sheath.
To conserve water, leaves have a waxy leaf surface and cuticle.

2. The arrangement of fronds on the trunk reduces the shading of lower fronds by fronds above, so that each frond shares the sunlight
and no frond is completely shaded.
Each frond is arranged on the trunk at an angle of 140o from the next in age above and below it.
The sequence around the circle of the trunk is as follows:
2.1 (0o) 2. (140o) 3. (280o) 4. (420o, i.e. 360o + 60o) 5. (560o, i.e. 360o + 200o) 6. (700o, i.e. 720o- 20o).
So starting from one frond and looking upwards, the next five will make two turns around the trunk, and the fifth leaf will be 20o from
being directly above the frond where you started looking.
This arrangement is easier to see by looking at the leaf scars on the trunk.
Count the total number of fronds because you can relate this to the general health of the coconut palm and the number of fruit it can
This arrangement of fronds (phyllotaxy, phyllotaxis) is described as 2/5.

2.2 The frond starts as a tiny lump in the bud of the palm.
It comes out a vertical "spear" (a fibrous leaf sheath) at the top of the palm after about 20 months.
The flower bunch (inflorescence) appears after about another 5 months in the axils of the leaves.
After about another year, a little longer in a cool season, the fruits are ripe and fall off.
The total life time of the frond is about 2 years.
As the frond grows older, especially on palms that bear many fruits, it bends down through an angle of about 160o before it drops off.

A mature palm drops about two coconuts per week.
Palms make a new frond every 22 to 30 days.
Healthy coconut palms may make 14 to 17 fronds in a year.
A typical mature coconut palm has about 30 leaves at any one time.
As the young palm develops the fronds become longer and quicker to emerge, so that after 5 years the length is 7 metres in Tall palms
and 3 metres to 5 metres in Dwarf palms.
The leaves are attached to the top of the stem in a terminal crown of 25-30 leaves surrounding the terminal bud.

2.3 Stand to one side of a palm to do this.
Stand under a Tall palm.
Look up at the arrangements of the leaves.
To count the number of leaves on a coconut palm, stand next to the oldest leaf near the ground and look up to see the number of
fronds almost directly above it, in a right hand or left hand spiral.
So you have counted every 6th frond.
Note that on older palms the lower fronds hug the trunks and do not touch the upper fronds that often hang farther out and curve down.

2.4. Count the leaflets on each side of the frond, about 120 leaflets (pinnae).
Count the number of fronds and number of fruits on different palms.
Note whether palms with more fronds have more fruit.
Measure the length of the frond, 4-6 metres, and the maximum length of the leaflets, 50-120 cm.
Note the arrangement of the leaflets with reference to the position of the sun.
Motor cells in the midrib can change their angle to the sun.

2.5 The number of leaves in the crown of a mature palm remains almost constant over the years, with about 10 mature leaves with
mature fruit bunches, 10 mature leaves with developing fruit bunches and 10 developing leaves.
A mature leaf remains on the palm for about 3 years, then is replaced by a developing less mature leaf.
In addition to these leaves is the single terminal apical bud (coconut "cabbage").

4.0 Stem, trunk
| See diagram 53.4: Coconut trunk
Single growing point, growing bud, central bud,
Main bud, vegetative bud, terminal bud
Terminal meristem, apical bud, "cabbage"
Tip of old stem narrows to "pencil point
1. Trunk --> leaf scars
2. Trunk --> leaf axils (where the leaf meets the stem)
3. trunk --> joints "node + leaf + internode" up the stem, short internodes
4. Bole, swollen base of stem --> roots.

4.1 In Tall palm varieties, e.g. Solomon Islands Tall palms, the bottom of the trunk swells out to form the bole.
A bole is where the roots come out so a big bole gives a broad grip on the soil.
The bole should not be on top of the soil, so bury it by putting the seedling in a planting pit deep enough for the soil to cover the nut.

The Dwarf palm does not form a bole so the diameter is much the same along its trunk.
Their narrow diameter at soil level means that their grip of the soil is less secure than with a Tall palm.
Mature Dwarf palms have about half the trunk height of Tall palms of the same age.
Dwarf palms have shorter fronds and so a smaller crown.
The trunk is usually curved, probably a result of response to light.

4.2 Leaf scars occur where the leaf base and attached fibrous sheath clasp the trunk, so the scars come from detached leaf sheaths.
The leaf base partially encircles the trunk.
The attached fibrous sheath encircles the trunk.
The thick leaf base of the leaf stalk (petiole) makes the thicker part of the leaf scar.
The fibrous sheath, once joined to the sides of the leaf stalk at the leaf base, forms a circle around the trunk and makes the thinner
part of the leaf scar.

Examine the scars on the trunk to learn much about the life of the coconut palm.
Leaf scars are far apart if the palm grew fast, especially in the early period before fruit production.
Leaf scars are close together in Dwarf palm varieties, e.g. the Malayan Dwarf palm, or if the Tall palm is growing in bad soil or has
experienced droughts.
The scars get closer together as the palm grows older.

4.3 Note any steps cut into the trunk and marks made by fire or a bush knife.
Such damage is important because the coconut palm has no cambium in the trunk to repair damage and the trunk of a mature palm
cannot get any thicker.
The trunk of a mature Tall palm is flexible enough during strong winds to bend without breaking, but the trunk of a Dwarf palm may snap.
The trunk may have a bend in it from being blown over by a strong wind and then growing straight again.

4.5 The fronds make 14 to 17 new scars every year so to find the age of a coconut palm, count all the scars on the trunk and divide
by 14 to 17.

4.6 The coconut palm has only one apical meristem, the growing point.
The trunk is not obvious for the first few years until the apical meristem grows to its final diameter.
The trunk eventually grows to about 20 metres high in 50 years and may reach above 30 metres in 80 years.
In older coconuts producing many coconuts, the internodes (gaps between the scars) become shorter to give more plant nutrients and
energy to the coconuts.
So the bases of the upper fronds push outwards on the leaves, those older fronds below, forcing them to "rotate" downwards
progressively with age resulting in a spherical shaped crown.

At the end of the life of the palm, the trunk narrows to a "pencil point".
Tall palm trunks standing bare with no crown may be caused by lightning strike or the result of health decline due to age.
The trunks of Tall palms grown closest to the ocean lean out towards the ocean because the light reflecting off the surface of the
ocean attracts the plant.
The lean is strongest when the coastline is close to a north south direction.

4.7 The leaf scars circling the trunks show where the petioles of fallen leaves joined the trunk.
About 15 leaves fall each year so you can count the scars to estimate the age of the palm.
On the upper middle of each scar is another scar left by the peduncles, (stalks of the fallen inflorescences).
Examine a scar where a fruit bunch was joined to the top of the leaf scar.
Count the frond leaf scars left by of one year's growth.

5.0 Roots
| 18.1 Roots (adventitious roots)
| See diagram 53.5: Coconut roots, Vertical section of main root
The roots are adventitious roots, so no tap root.
Also, no root hairs.
Root = root cap, root tip + absorbing hypodermis + red impervious hypodermis
Embryo --> radicle (dies), cotyledon sheath --> main roots, primary roots
Trunk --> bole, swollen base of stem, internodes --> main roots, primary roots
Trunk --> bole, swollen base of stem internodes --> lateral roots, main root branches --> rootlets
Trunk --> bole, swollen base of stem internodes --> lateral roots, main root branches
--> rootlets
--> air breathing roots, pneumathodes, white lumps.

5.1 The young coconut first has a group of roots, about 10 mm in diameter, growing from a base below the growing bud.
Later an inverted cone shape of roots forms.
At this stage the coconut palm can be blown over, but at 6 years 12 mm diameter roots radiate out from the periphery of the trunk base.
These roots may branch to form smaller secondary and tertiary roots.
The coconut palm, has no tap root, no root hairs, no cambium, no bark and only one growing point (apical meristem).

5.2 Most of the roots are in the top 90 to 120 cm of soil, but they have great strength and provide a firm anchor to the soil.
Sometimes the wind or the tide removes sand away from around the base of the palm, and only then can you see the roots.

5.3 The main roots are up to 12 mm thick and are strong and woody, except close to the growing end that is white or cream in colour.
As a root continues to grow at the tip for several years, you can see a sequence of age and appearance along its length, starting from
the pale tip through reddish colour, then brown, then dark brown.
The palm continuously makes main roots.
As old roots die, new roots grow out from the bole, but roots live a long time and some may be up to 50 years old.

Each main root has a pointed root cap about 1 cm long.
Behind the root cap is about 100 mm of root that can absorb water, but farther back the outside becomes hard where the root it does
not absorb water.
The roots are adventitious roots and may grow to a length of 6 metres.
There is no tap root.
The roots cannot penetrate compacted subsoil or penetrate below the water table and rot easily if waterlogged for a long time.

5.4 Just beneath the soil surface both large and small roots develop small whitish lumps, especially if the soil is really wet.
These soft lumps are special "breathing organs" (pneumathodes).
They are modified rootlets to help air enter the roots.
Many thinner lateral roots branch out from the main roots.
Short rootlets grow out from the lateral roots.

5.6 Use a spade to uncover some main roots or dig up a seedling.
Note the colour of the main roots.
Look for small white lumps.
Find the end of a main root to see the root cap.
Find some lateral roots and rootlets.

6.0 Flowers (inflorescence)
| See diagram 53.6.1: Coconut flower sheath
| See diagram 53.6.2: Male flower, Female flower
Monoecious, male and female flowers
Inflorescence, flower bunch,
Spadix inflorescence in axil of leaf, 1-2 metres long
1. Male flower (200 to 300), P 3+3, A 3 + 3 (inflorescence)
2. Female flower (20 to 50), P3 + 3, G1 (inflorescence)
3. Main axis, main stalk, peduncle
--> rachis
--> lateral branches
spadix branch, flower stem --> flowers (inflorescence)
4. Lateral branches (inflorescence)
5. Outer sheath of spathe (sterile spathe), bract enclosing inflorescence, 1- 5 metres long
6. Inner sheath of spathe, fertile spathe, bract enclosing inflorescence.

6.1 Tall palms usually crossbreed but Dwarf palms usually inbreed, so Tall palms have greater genetic diversity than Dwarf palms.
A coconut palm is monoecious (bears male and female flowers).
Crossbreeding depends on whether male and female flowers on the same branch are active simultaneously.
Pollen may be shaken from the male flower to the female flower or may be carried by the wind or insects.

6.2 In ideal conditions, Dwarf palms, e.g. Malayan Dwarf palm, may start to make flowers when they are only three years old, or
five years in a long dry season.
However, Tall palms may take three years longer and may not make flowers until five to ten years after transplanting.
Each year about twelve bunches (inflorescences) form in each leaf axil at the base of each frond, with many male flowers on the upper
section of the branch and few female flowers on the lower section of the branch.
All the flower bunches on one palm will always hang out of the same side of the leaf stalk, either right or left.

A spear-like green tube or sheath formed from a bract (spathe or spadix), encloses the flower bunch.
It takes a long time to make a flower bunch.
When it is 2 years old and developing but not visible, the spathe emerges in the frond axil and splits, releasing the flower bunch.
Each flower bunch has a central stalk (rachis), with many lateral branches.
On each lateral branch are about 20 female flowers at the base, and more than 200 male flowers on the upper part.
The newest flower bunch is associated with the frond that has reached the 8th to 10th position down from the youngest emerging leaf.

6.3 The male flowers, single or in twos or threes, has a pale yellow perianth (sepals and petals), in two whorls of three.
Inside each male flower are two whorls of three stamens, i.e. six stamens , that make the pollen.
A honey gland (nectary), attracts insects.
The male flowers at the tips of the flower bunch branches open first and shed their pollen, followed by male flowers on the lower
sections over the next 3 weeks.

6.4 The female flowers are much larger than the male flowers.
You see them as 2-3 cm diameter knobs close to the near end of the lower branches of the flower bunch.
Most of this size comes from the three thick woody sepals wrapped around the fleshy flower within.
If you cut these knobs away, you can see the small nut-shaped ovary inside.
At first you see only the sepals.
The inner flower expands to expose its tip, shaped like a cone, on which three stigmas separate and exude a sugary sap from three
nectaries that stimulates pollen to germinate and extend the pollen tube down into the ovary.
Each inflorescence bears only a few female flowers, because most fall off in the first two months.
So each inflorescence bears 3 to 6 fruits to maturity.
You find them with a pair of male flowers at the base of the branches.

Most of the male flowers are borne singly or in pairs towards the branch tips.
As the flowers contain nectaries and are sweet scented, they may attract insects for pollination, e.g. flies and honey bees.
Coconut honey is found in some places.
However, the pollen is light and dry, so wind pollination may also occur.
The male flowers mature and wither before the female flowers become receptive, a sequence called protandry.
So the male flowers in the same inflorescence cannot pollinate the female flowers.
This arrangement ensures cross pollination between different palms.

6.5 Some people want to remove all inflorescences and immature and mature coconuts from a single coconut tree, but worry whether
a new inflorescence will later form and how long it will take.
The coconut palm produces an inflorescence with every frond, but the inflorescence emerges about one year after the frond itself
If, say, 14 fronds are produced each year, that is also the number of inflorescences that would emerge.
No matter what you do to the emerged inflorescences, and the bunches that develop, new inflorescences will keep emerging about
every 26 days.

The interval from inflorescence emergence to mature fruit would be 12 months.
So a complete removal of all inflorescence now would require 12 months to elapse before the first new mature fruit would be available.
Removing inflorescences results in the palm growing taller faster, because the energy that would have gone into the flowers and fruit is
diverted into extension of the trunk.
This elongation of the newly forming trunk results in the crown of the palm being less compact, allowing many more fronds to sustain a
fairly upright position to help form a spherical crown.

6.6 Open coconut flowers with a sharp knife to examine a young flower bunch (inflorescence).
1. Open some male flowers to find the 6 stamens.
Count the stamens in one flower.
2. Examine a young female flower, and open an older flower from another flower bunch to see the opened stigmas.
3. Cut away the wooden sepals and petals from a female flower to see the nut-shaped ovary inside.
Be careful! Use a sharp knife.
4. Cut across the ovary to see the 3 ovules inside.
Only one ovule is fertilized and becomes a young plant (embryo), seen in a socket in the "meat" (kernel, endosperm).

7.0 Pollination and fertilization
See diagram 53.7: Coconut fruit, Fruit growth, bad seedlings, good seedlings
7.1 In Tall palm varieties, the male flowers open and shed their pollen before the female flowers open.
So Tall palms usually need pollen from another palm, they must be cross-pollinated.
If fruit does not set on a solitary palm, e.g. in a home backyard or school, monitor the female flowers on the active flower bunch,
(inflorescence), until you see that the flowers are receptive to pollen.
Then take from another palm a branch of an inflorescence that is shedding pollen, and shake it close to the female flowers on the solitary
palm to achieve pollination.
The Dwarf palm self-pollinates because it still sheds pollen when the female flowers are ready.
However, some pollen may be carried to a female flower by the wind or insects, e.g. flies, wasps and honey bees.
The insects that carry the coconut pollen do not fly very far.

If you pick up a nut under a mother palm, the pollen that fertilized that mother palm probably came from a nearby palm.
So do not gather seed nuts from under one good mother palm if poor bearing palms are nearby.
Gather seed nuts from where a group of high-bearing palms are growing.
Also, do not select mother palms only from areas of better soil.

7.2 After the male flowers have shed all the pollen, the female flowers become "pollen ready".
The pollen is carried to the female flowers by falling from the male flowers, if a Dwarf palm, or carried by insects or wind, if a Tall palm.
The female flowers of isolated Tall palms may not receive any pollen, because the time for pollen shedding and the time for being "pollen
ready" are different.
However, most Dwarf palms self-pollinate, because the timing of the male and female active phases overlap.

7.4 When the pollen is carried to a female flower and it lands on the stigma, it germinates in the sugary liquid there and the pollen grain
extends its pollen tube down to enter the egg inside the ovary of the female flower.
There it transfers DNA to the egg that merges with the DNA of the egg, the process of fertilization.
When pollen fertilizes a female flower, it can then grow into a fruit that has an embryo with the DNA from both parents.
It takes about a year for the fruit to grow.

Some young fruits fall off the flower bunch while they are still small.
This "button shedding" may occur because an insect, the "nut fall bug", puts marks on the small button by sucking out some sap.
A coconut inflorescence has knob-like female flowers.
Tall palm pollination can occur only when all the male flowers have been shed and the female flowers have increased in size and have
begun secreting "honey dew".

7.5 There is no commercial source of coconut pollen, but scientists can freeze-dry pollen and store it for months.
Test the viability of pollen by observing how much germinates in a dilute sucrose and gelatine solution at field temperature.

8.0 Seed and fruit (drupe)
| See diagram 53.7: Coconut fruit, Fruit growth, bad seedlings, good seedlings
Coconut has a large recalcitrant seed and no vegetative reproduction.
"fruit", seed nut, fibrous drupe, button
"nut", round coconut, dehusked coconut sold in markets and shops
1. Exocarp, rind, smooth skin (fruit)
2. Mesocarp, fibre and pith, husk (coir) (fruit)
3. Endocarp, hard shell (nut)
4. Embryo. (seed)
5. Testa, brown seed coat. (seed)
6. Kernel ("meat", endosperm) white flesh. (seed)
7. Cotyledon --> haustorium, button, "apple", egg (seed)
8. Coconut water, liquid endosperm, "coconut milk" (seed).

8.1 The fibrous husk may be more than 50 mm thick and is firmly attached to the shell.
The husk provides buoyancy, water resistance, and cushions the fall of the fruit on rocks.
The thick low density husk absorbs water very slowly, so it allows the coconut fruit to float for up to 4 months in salt water and still
germinate on dry land.
The coconut fruit develops for 12 months and becomes a mature seed when the husk dries.

8.2 The mature fruit of the coconut palm is a 3-sided fibrous dry drupe, not a botanical "nut".
It contains the largest seed although larger fruits exist, e.g. the compound fruit of the breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis, of the Pacific islands.
The round "coconut" sold in retail vegetable shops is a dehusked fruit.
It consists of the coconut milk, and "meat" (kernel, endosperm), and hard stony shell (endocarp), that encloses the seed.
The "meat" is about 45% water, 35% fat, 10% carbohydrate sugars and 5% protein.
The reddish brown fibre (mesocarp or husk), and outer smooth skin (rind, exocarp), have been removed from the "coconut" sold in

When a seed germinates "in the wild" on the upper beach sand, the meat (kernel, endosperm) sustains growth until the roots can grow
down to find freshwater below the sand.
The new shoot can grow up through the husk and develop leaves that capture energy through exposure to the light.
The whole fruit has two ends, the stalk end and the outer end.
The stalk end has a stalk scar (hilum), where it was attached to the bunch.
Some coconuts are round, but most coconuts of Tall palms have 3 sides, defined by three ridges along the length of the fruit.
One side is flatter and broader than the other sides so is called the "broad side".
The stalk scar is usually closer to the broad side than to the other sides.

8.3 Fruit development goes through several stages
After 6 months, the fruit has reached its full diameter, but contains no meat (kernel, endosperm), just a cloudy solution.
A nut with internal diameter of 100 mm contains 25 mL of "coconut water" , when the meat (kernel, endosperm), has not yet
After 8 months, the meat (kernel, endosperm), appears first as a soft jelly on the inside of the shell.
After 10 months, the meat (kernel, endosperm), progressively hardens through a rubber texture.
After 12 months, the meat (kernel, endosperm), becomes solid and crisp.
The meat (kernel, endosperm), ranges in thickness from 9 to 15 mm, depending on the coconut variety and the soil fertility.
You can snap a piece of mature meat (kernel, endosperm), with your fingers.

During maturity, the fruit loses water by evaporation through the shell, leaving an air space.
You can detect the air space shaking the coconut and listening for a "sloshing" sound.
As the fruits mature, the coconut water (liquid endosperm), tastes sweeter , with a slight almond flavour, as it becomes more
The fruit takes 12 -13 months to mature and weighs 1.2 to 2.0 kg.
At any time, a coconut palm may have all stages of development, from opening flowers to ripe coconuts.
The mature fruit contains by weight 36% husk, 12% shell, 28% "meat" (kernel, endosperm) and 25% water.
A typical coconut shell is about 130 mm in diameter, and is nearly spherical, with a pointed spike at the bottom and three "eyes" at the
The coconut palm reaches full production after 10-15 years, then may bear up to 100 fruits per year for more than fifty years, then
fewer fruit until it dies after about 90 years.

8.4 The coconut palm needs plenty of water, sunshine and a temperature of at least 22oC for most of the year.
Provided these conditions, it sends its gracefully curved, branchless trunk 12 - 30 metres into the air.
Its top is crowned with feather-like leaves, flowers and developing nuts.
The leaves may reach a length of 3 metres.
They have a strong midrib from which long leaflets grow, giving the feather -like appearance.
Small ridges divide the inner nut into 3 parts.
One part is wider than the others.
The "active eye" where the seedling grows out, is the eye in the widest part of the nut.

8.5. Use 6 ripe fruit and a bush knife.
Husk one fruit.
See the 3 "eyes" (germination pores), of the nut, consisting of two hard, plugged pores and one soft, functional pore (germination pore).
Find the embryo just beneath the one "soft" eye.
The two "false eyes" have hard shell behind them.
The "active eye" is closest to the broad side of the husk.
Remove the husk from the stalk end of a nut only, so that you can confirm the position of the active eye to be closest to the broad
side of the husk.
This is important, because if you plant a seed nut in the pre-nursery broad side up, the seedling shoot has the shortest distance to push
through the husk when it germinates.

Cut another nut lengthwise.
Note whether the inner nut is closest to the stalk end or the outer end of the husk.
The stalk scar is closest to the broad side of the nut.
Draw an end view of an inner nut to show the 3 eyes and the 3 ridges.
Draw an end view of a fruit partly husked to show that the active eye is closest to the broad side of the husk.

9.0 Germination
| See diagram 53.9.0: Early germination, Later germination
| See diagram 53.9.1: Germinating dehusked coconut, (fruit with mesocarp removed)
9.1 Germination occurs when the shoot comes out of the active eye.
Roots form on its lower side.
A tough narrow "beak" forces it way upwards through the husk and emerges to reach the outside world 4 to 8 weeks later,
depending on the temperature of the environment and the thickness of the husk.
During this period, you cannot see the growing shoot inside the husk.
A dehusked nut can germinate in a sealed plastic bag containing water that provides a humid atmosphere.
The shell can be regarded as part of the seed part of the fruit, because any blemish in the shell is fatal before or after germination.

9.2 The tubular single cotyledon remains inside the fruit.
The outer end of the cotyledon elongates and so the growing embryo is pushed through the largest eye ("soft eye", "active eye").
The plumule, then the radicle, grows out of the cotyledon sheath into the mesocarp (husk fibres).
The plumule forms scale leaves and pushes out through the mesocarp and breaks through the exocarp (outer skin), as a shoot and the
first true leaves form.
Only a small portion of the cotyledon emerges from the seed, as a swollen body abutting near the seed surface, called the "button".
The radicle and plumule emerge from the bottom and top of the button.

The first seedling root, the radicle, is usually narrow and very short lived, and is quickly replaced by roots formed at the seedling stem
base, the adventitious roots.
The first stages of germination occur cannot be observed without de husking the nut, because they occur in the fibrous fruit wall that
sticks to the seed.

9.3 The end of the cotyledon closest to the meat, (kernel, endosperm), grows inside to make an organ of spongy tissue (haustorium,
"apple", "egg").
The haustorium remains inside the seed, dissolving and absorbing food from the endosperm.
It takes about 4 months for the haustorium to expand to almost fill the cavity of the seed, except in very large coconuts.
The haustorium absorbs the coconut water within two months of germination.
Nutrients supplied via the haustorium are the sole source of biomass for the shoot and roots, until the first green leaf unfolds.
The haustorium will continue to supply biomass for 12 months or more, until the solid endosperm is exhausted.

The haustorium contacts the entire inner surface of the meat (kernel, endosperm), in all but the biggest coconuts, and releases enzymes
to digest the nutrients in the kernel.
The haustorium conducts nutrients from the meat (kernel, endosperm), to the seedling during the 3 months between germination and
the emergence of the first green leaf.
In a mature fruit, the cavity is never full of water, generally about 75% full in freshly mature coconuts, and diminishing after that.
By the time that the haustorium is well formed and roots are functioning, the water has all been absorbed.
The secretion of enzymes to lyse ("dissolve"), the solid endosperm continues, with the aid of water from the roots.

9.4 Several primary roots eventually emerge from the husk into the soil.
The hygroscopic husk supplies adequate water to these roots before their emergence.
The fibres and spongy pith of the husk can hold enough water to give the plant some water, until the roots can find water in the soil.
The radicle does not usually die, and adventitious roots grow as branches from the primary roots.
The radicle may die, but adventitious roots from the nodes of the shoot grow down through the husk and into the soil.
So the first roots appear outside the seed nut after the shoot has appeared.
Side branching roots begin to grow out from the main roots and extend into the bulk of the husk.

9.5 Visit the pre-nursery one week after planting and every week after this first visit.
As shoots begin to emerge, transfer these coconuts to the main nursery in weekly batches.
1. To increase speed of germination, slice the outer skin from the lower side of each seed nut (fruit) and remove a small patch above
the active eye (soft eye).
2. Use some seed nuts that have just germinated.
Use a knife or an axe to cut these open carefully.
Try to cut through the place where the shoot is coming through the eye.
The embryo is beneath the soft eye at the top of the nut.
There is no embryo under the two "blind eyes".
3. Remove the covering of leaves.
Examine the coconuts for signs of germination, i.e. lift the coconuts to see if any roots are coming out.
Then water the coconuts again.

4. Examine the seed nuts every day.
Organize a competition for who can find the first germinated seed nut.
Keep a record of dates of early germination.
5. When any seed nuts have germinated, lift them and plant them in the nursery.
Put the earliest to germinate at one end of the nursery so you will have a sequence in the nursery of earliest to germinate to latest to
Cut down any coconuts from Dwarf palms that have germinated while still attached to the palm.

9.1 Tissue culture
Tissue culture of coconuts is used to produce new varieties with better genotypes by growing particular embryos or cloning new
varieties with better genotypes.
The two tissue culture techniques are embryo culture and clonal propagation.
Embryo culture involves collecting embryos, culturing them on a medium and incubating them under sterile conditions.
Clonal propagation involves collecting and culturing somatic tissues, e.g. immature inflorescences.
Nowadays, embryo culture is more used, mainly for growing rare mutant coconut varieties with tasty or aromatic jelly-like endosperm.

The efficiency of clonal propagation is still unsatisfactory , despite more than 40 years of research into using it to propagate coconuts
on a commercial scale.
A big problem is the lack of transportability of germ plasm between widely-separated environments.
Embryos can be dehydrated for 8 hours without genetic damage by cryopreservation.
They are grown in a medium not containing sucrose, to stop micro-organism infection.
Embryos 10-11 months after pollination are the best for preparation from zygote tissue resistant to the disease lethal yellowing.
Elevated carbon dioxide levels are used to promote seedling growth.

10.0 Collecting seed nuts (fruit) for planting
1. Tall palm seed nuts are cross-pollinated.
The mother of a coconut is the palm it falls from, but the father is another palm close to it.
So the place to gather good seed nuts is a place where you find many good palms growing close together.
Do not gather seed nuts from a high bearing coconut palm if this palm has many poor bearing palms near it.

2. Find a place to collect seed nuts where many good palms grow close together.
Remember that high production because of favourable soil will not be passed on to the progeny of those palms.

3. Pick up every nut you can find.
You do not know the age of these coconuts lying under the palms, so use them just to make copra, but do not use them for your
coconut project.

4. Two weeks later, go back to the same place and pick up the coconuts that fell since you were there last.
Now you know the age of these coconuts for none are more than two weeks old.
Take these coconuts to your coconut project.

5. Examine the collected coconuts.
Shake every nut and listen for a sloshing sound.
If you cannot hear a sloshing sound, discard this nut because lack of nut water means that it will not germinate.
However, lack of a sloshing sound could also be due to germination having already taken place, but the shoot not yet emerged and the
water being absorbed.
If it is clear what side of the fruit was sitting in contact with the soil, then it could be placed safely in the pre-nursery to await
emergence of the sprout.

6. Discard any coconuts that are really small or misshapen because of damage by insects.
Reject about 3 or 4 coconuts of each 30 coconuts collected, i.e. 10%.

7. Ask the Department of Agriculture about getting improved selected seed nuts.
Large coconuts are easier to process for "meat" (kernel, endosperm), extraction, but do not always indicate high yields.

8. To select one for germinating, choose a fallen nut in which you can hear water slosh when shaken.
Leave the husk on and bury the nut bottom point down in loose, organically-rich soil in full sun or partial shade, with a little of the husk
above the active eye removed to allow easier germination and potting.
When the first shoot appears, usually after 3-6 months ( longer in marginal climates), the coconut can be left to root and be
transplanted later, or can be planted in its permanent site.
Use a fertilizer balanced in nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium.
Coconut palms are heavy users of potassium and chlorine, so fertilizing with extra potassium chloride is beneficial.

11.0 Propagation, pre-nursery and nursery
| See diagram 53.11.1: Pre-nursery
| See diagram 53.11.2: Nursery
1. You use the pre-nursery to identify the early germinating seed nuts.
They are the best coconuts because they grow into palms that begin to bear many coconuts quickly.

2. The reason for having a nursery is to tell which are the strongest seedlings.
The seedlings stay in the nursery until you plant them out.
Use at least 50% more coconuts than you intend to plant in the field to allow for selection of the best seedlings.

3. Choose a place for a pre-nursery and nursery, that is sunny, has no shade from big trees nearby, has deep loose sandy or loam soil,
and is about 6 metres long and 2 metres wide.
Do not use rocky or clay soil.
Put pegs at the corners of the pre-nursery.
Make planting lines about 90 cm apart.
Then make shallow grooves in the soil following the planting lines to hold the coconuts in place.
Fence the nursery to prevent damage by horses, cattle, pigs, goats or coconut crabs Birgus latro.
Dig the fencing 10 cm into the soil.

4. After collecting the coconuts, put them in the pre-nursery without delay.
Trim the seed nuts by cutting away some hard skin (exocarp) over the germ pore (soft eye).
Lay the coconuts (seed nuts) broad side up on their sides and close together.
Cover with palm fronds to keep the coconuts moist.
Do not roll over the nut during the stage of hidden germination when the roots and shoots are growing through the husk, because
they will take longer to emerge.
For polybags planting, stand the coconuts upright, close together and keep them in the pre-nursery until the 2-leaf stage when they are
ready for planting in the polybags.
Check the coconuts each week and lift the sprouted coconuts to the nursery and plant them there.
If any seed nuts have not germinated after 3 months use them for making copra.

5. If you have a ground-based nursery make a small planting pit in the ground soil to hold each germinated nut.
Plant them about 60 cm apart.
Seedlings in polybags can be put side by side.
Gather leaves and grass and make a thick cover of mulch on the soil all around planted coconuts.
Take seedlings from polybags to the nursery as soon as they germinate.
Cut off the roots growing outside the polybags to increase root development within the polybag.

6. Put the earliest germinating coconuts together at one end of the nursery.
Put slow germinating coconuts in another place.
Cover the coconuts with layers of dead coconut leaves or other plant material, and keep them watered when the weather is dry.

7. If you use polybags, put one bag inside another in pairs.
Fill each double bag with soil up to 10 cm from the top to half submerge the nut in the potting soil.
Cut the tops off some coconuts and plant them vertically in the bags.
Cover the top of the bags with leaves or grass mulch.
Make holes in the bags on the sides near the bottom.
8. Water the coconuts and keep them watered regularly.

12.0 Transplanting
| See diagram 53.12.1: Planting a seedling
| See diagram 53.12.4: Drip circle, Marking out
1. Transplanting means digging up a seedling and planting it in another place.
Usually some roots are broken.
When the roots are broken, the seedlings suffer shock and grow more slowly.
Coconuts are best transplanted in early summer just before the wet season.
The recommended spacing for sandy and lateritic soils is 7.6 m for triangular spacing, 8 X 8 m for square spacing, and 6.5 m for row
spacing, with 9 m between rows.

2. You can avoid transplanting shock by growing seedlings in black plastic bags (polybags), usually available from the Department of
Seed nuts may not fit easily into these polybags if you lay them on their sides, but you can trim off part of the husk to make them fit.
You could plant seed nuts vertically in the polybags with the stalk end up.
However, in this position the nut water is no longer in direct contact with the embryo when the embryo extends within the nut at
A nut has its own irrigation system with the nut water keeping the embryo wet.
To speed up germination by letting rain easily enter the husk and wet the active eye, cut a slice of husk off the top or stalk end of the nut.
Also, cut away the thin tough outer layer to help the roots to emerge from the underside of the husk.
Space the seedlings 60 cm apart, so you can dig up most of the roots of a seedling without damage to the next seedling.
Use a fork to lift out most of the roots without breaking them.

3. Before transplanting, clear the area of all bush and cut down old coconut palms.
Do this even if you can only clear a small area for a few seedlings.
Do not plant seedlings under old palms, because they will take longer to bear fruit than if planted in the open.
Clearing must be done to grow strong early bearing palms, but you will need to work hard to keep the weeds down until the young
palms provide good shade.
It may take a long time to do the clearing properly.

4. Choose a place that has well drained good soil in a sunny place.
The ideal soil conditions for coconuts are: 4.1 good drainage, 4.2 good water-holding capacity, 4.3 water table withing 3m depth of soil,
4.4 absence of rocks or hard substratum within 2 m depth of soil.
Do not plant in swampy soil.
While most often found along coasts in sandy soils, coconuts can be grown in interior and upland regions, and in a variety of soils.
Myth has it that the coconut requires salt water, but this is not true.

5. The depth to dig the 1 X 1 m planting pits depends on the kind of soil and the level of the groundwater.
In deep loose soil, planting pit can be one metre deep and fill back to 50 cm with surface soil and organic matter.
However, if you find water within 50 cm of the surface, the planting pit can only be about 60 cm deep.

6. Do not try to plant too many seedlings.
Planting only 4 to 6 seedlings in the first lesson is better, because you can make sure that no damage to the roots of the seedling occurs.
The seedling is ready for transplantation after 10 to 12 months, since germination when it has about 8 leaves and the meat (kernel,
endosperm) is nearly exhausted.
Trim the roots back to allow new roots to appear during the wet season.
The diagram shows transplanting of seedlings with only 4 -5 leaves, so they are about 5 months old so they are too early to transplant
in most places.

7. Seedlings must show signs of strong, vigorous growth.
You already know which coconuts were the first to germinate.
Now you must decide which of the earliest to germinate are suitable for planting in the field.
Select the strongest seedlings that will grow quickly and bear coconuts sooner.
The strongest seedlings will have thick straight stems and many broad leaves with early splitting into leaflets.
Select 9-12 months old seedlings with 6-8 leaves, 10-12 cm collar girth.

8. Transplanting seedlings in polybags
| See diagram 53.12.2: Polybag planting
| See diagram 53.12.3: Fill polybags, Nut cut for polybags
1. Dig a hole just big enough for the polybag to fit in it.
Do not make it too wide.
Make it deep enough so that the bottom of the seedling stems will be 12 cm below the soil surface.
2. At the bottom of the planting pit put some husks with cups facing up, as for bare root seedlings above.
3. Cut off the bottom of the polybags.
Carefully lower the bag and seedling in its double bag into the planting pit.
Cut down the side of the polybags and pull them out.
You may be able just to pull the bags up over the leaves without cutting.
4. Cut a small hole in the husk of the nut and put in trace element mixture if they need that.
5. Pack soil into the space between the seedling and the hole made for it, and then water the seedling.

12.1 Field planting of seedlings
In counties with strong monsoon rains, transplant at least a month before the monsoon so seedlings get well established before heavy
1. Make a clear space for the seedlings.
2. Mark out places for the planting pits.
Use string or strong fishing line about 7650 cm long.
Tie a knot every 8 metres.
Stretch out the line in a North South direction along one side of the planting area.
Put a peg in the soil next to each knot.
Mark out the second row of pegs.
Go to the first two pegs in the first row.
Hold the first and third knots over the top of the two pegs.
Pull out the line sideways and put a peg under the second knot.
Do this again until you have marked out the second row of pegs.
Then all the palms will be 8 metres apart within each row, and between the rows on a triangular pattern.

3. Dig the planting pits deep enough to allow one or two layers of husks and some topsoil at the bottom.
The top of the seedling nut must be about 10 cm below the surface of the soil.
4. Put layers of husks at the bottom of the planting pit, with cups broken and facing up to improve water conservation.
Put good soil and powdered cow dung on top of these layers.
Add potash or mixed fertilizer or ashes from the fireplace at your home.
Add washed coral sand if the soil is heavy and sticky.
Make a small hole to accommodate the nut attached to the seedling and fill the pit with soil to cover the nut and press down on the
5. Drive a stake into the planting pit so you can tie the seedling to it to prevent winds uprooting the young seedlings.
6. Discard seedlings that have thin twisted stems and few narrow leaves.

7. Count the leaves on seedlings.
Note which seedlings are the first to have 5 leaves.
Note which seedlings are the best shape and look the strongest.
Plant only the best seedlings.
Plant the seedling so that the top of the nut is about 10 cm below the soil surface.
Put soil around the nut but do not cover the collar of the stem.
Soil is added to the planting pit later as the stem grows in thickness.

8. If the coconuts need trace elements, cut a small square hole in the top of the husk of the nut.
Put in half a teaspoon full of the mixture that should contain manganese and iron.
Then put the piece of husk back into the small hole.
9. Put good soil around the seedling, but not above the top of the nut.
10. Cover the planting pit with dead leaves or other mulch.

14.0 Harvesting, denutting
Harvesting timetable
Month 0. Male flowers shed pollen
Month 1. Female flowers pollen ready
Months 2, 3 Fruits set
Months 4 to 12 Endosperm forms
Months 10 to 14 Shell dark colour
Months 12 to 14 Sloshing sound in nut
Months 13, 14 Husk dry
Months 12 to 14 Coconuts ripen
Months 12 to 14 harvest
Months 13, 14 Coconuts fall.

You can harvest young palms with a pole and hook knife, but only experienced climbers can harvest Tall palms.
In the Pacific islands mature coconuts are not usually harvested by hand.
People just wait for the mature coconuts to fall, and then collect them to make copra.
Falling coconuts can cause severe brain damage to young children.
Rats can attack immature fruits and cause them to fall without warning.
Immature coconuts may be damage by fall but mature coconuts are usually well cushioned to prevent the nut splitting on impact.
In the Philippines, coconuts are harvested every 45 days or eight times a year.

Denutting coconut palms
Where there is a risk of a ripe nut falling on someone, the timing of denutting is important.
The coconut fruit matures in 12 to 13 months in north Queensland and flowering goes on throughout the year so there are fruits
continually maturing.
When there is one bunch just maturing, harvest five or six bunches, because they would all have value in the local market.
Six months later there would be another similar set of harvestable fruit.

Before teaching this project, discuss the content of the lessons with a field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, and get advice on
planting material, spacing between palms, the site for planting, approved mulch, composting, and control of pests and diseases.
Use only the procedures, agricultural chemicals and insecticides recommended by the local field officer of the Ministry of Agriculture.
If insects cannot be controlled by hand picking, ask the Ministry of Agriculture to recommend a chemical spray.
All insect sprays are dangerous.
Show the students how to use them safely.
Wear gloves to avoid spray on the hands and do not breathe in the spray.
Wash the hands well after using a spray.
Keep the spray container in a safe place where students cannot get it.
Spray on a day of no wind or spray downwind on a windy day.
The spray must not blow on other people.