Jan 2, 2016

How to turn a coconut farmer's field into a polyvalent seed garden producing Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf varieties

The third recommendation endorsed during the 2012 COGENT Steering Committee Meeting was to encourage local stakeholders (men and women farmers, private enterprise, NGOs and CBOs) to become more involved in supplying quality planting material, and to teach farmers and other stakeholders how to autonomously produce quality seedlings of hybrids and other varieties, using the Polymotu concept or any other adopted method (Bourdeix and Allou, 2012a).

Here is a simple method to turn part of a farmer's field into a seed garden designed for producing both Hybrid, Tall and Dwarf seedlings. This method is to be published soon in a CPCRI book (Bourdeix R.,  Perera L., Rivera R.L., Saena-Tuia V and Masumbuko L. 2016. Global coconut communities - status and strategies in in situ diversity management and utilization. In: Coconut – global status and perspectives. Central Plantation Crop Research Institute, Kasaragod, India. Submitted.)

Figure 1. Example of a part of a farmer's field to be turn into a Polyvalent Seed Garden
The following steps are proposed:

1) At the beginning, the field is planted with Brown, Green-Brown and Green palms from a traditional Tall variety.

2) Cut all brown and green-brown colored palms and keep only the green-colored ones.

3) Plant Malayan Red Dwarf and Green Tall varieties to replace the removed Talls. Start to collect data of the remaining old green Talls, for about two years.

4) Two years later, when the first dwarfs will be close to flowering, and according to the result of this characterization, remove at least half of the green-colored Talls and keep only the best. This will improve the value of both Tall and hybrid seednuts.

5) Plant again Red Dwarfs and/or selected Green Talls on the available space.

Steps 1 and 2 can be conducted either successively or either in a more progressive way: for economic reasons, it could be envisioned to plant first the Dwarfs under the existing Talls, and to remove the brown and green-brown Talls only one or two year later, when the Dwarf will be close to flowering.
This design was presented by using as parent the Malayan Red Dwarf which is a strongly autogamous variety. For producing hybrids seednuts, this dwarf variety needs to be emasculated. Other Red Dwarf varieties could also be used instead of the Malayan. Some varieties especially interesting are the Allogamous Compact Red Dwarf recently discovered in French Polynesia and Fiji. By using such allogamous Dwarf, it could be expected to produce up to 50% hybrid seednuts without making any emasculation; such an economy of labour and manpower could allow to strongly reduce the cost of hybrid coconut seednuts.