Crop Production :: Oil Seeds :: Coconut



COCONUT (Cocos nucifera)

a.   Varieties

  • East Coast Tall
  • West Coast Tall
  • VPM-3 (Selection from Andaman Ordinary Tall)
  • ALR (CN -1) (Selection from Arasampatty Tall)
  • COD (Dwarf for tender coconut purpose only)

b.  Hybrids
                Tall x Dwarf
                (To be grown under well managed conditions)

  • VHC 2 - ECT X MYD
  • VHC 3 -  ECT X MOD

(Besides, the hybrids of ECT x COD, WCT x COD and WCT x MYD  are also produced by the State Department of Agriculture. The dwarf x tall type (COD x WCT) which has to be grown under well-managed conditions with assured irrigation is also produced by State Department of Agriculture).

Particulars of new varieties and hybrids

Sl. No. Characters VHC 2 VPM 3 VHC 3 ALR (CN) 1
1. Year of release 1988 1994 2000 2002
2. Parentage T X D hybrid
Selection from Andaman Ordinary Tall T X D hybrid
Selection from Arasampatti Tall
3. Time taken for first flowering (months) 43 63 46 48
4. Shape of the nut Medium oblong nuts Big oblong nuts Medium to oblong big nuts Small to medium oblong nuts
5. Nut yield (nuts/palm/year) 142 92 156 126
6. Copra content (g/nut) 152 176 162 131
7. Copra yield (kg/palm/year) 21.5 16.2 25.2 16.5
8. Oil content (%) 70.2 70.0 70.0 66.5
9. Special features High yield and oil content High copra content Drought tolerant Suitable for rainfed and irrigated condition High nut & copra yield and oil content Drought tolerant. Suitable for rainfed and irrigated condition

TNAU Coconut ALR2

a.  Soil
      Red sandy loam, laterite and alluvial soils are suitable. Heavy, imperfectly drained soil is unsuitable.

b   Planting seasons
              June-July, December - January. The planting can also be taken up in other seasons wherever irrigation and drainage facilities are available.

c.   Spacing
      Adopt a spacing of 25' x 25' (7.5 x 7.5 m) with 175 plants/ha. For planting in field border as a single row,  adopt 20' spacing between plants.

d.  Planting
Dug pit size of 3’ x 3' x 3'. In the pits, sprinkle Lindane 1.3 % D to prevent white ant damage.  Fill the pit to a height of two feet (60 cm) with FYM, red earth and sand mixed in equal proportions. At the center of the pit, remove the soil mixture and plant the seedling after removing all the roots.  Press the soil well around the seedling and provide the seedling with shade by using plaited coconut leaves or palmyrah leaves. Keep the pits free from weeds. Remove soil covering the collar region. As the seedlings grow and form stem, fill up the pits gradually by cutting the sides.

e.  Water management
From 5th year onwards, adopt the following irrigation schedule based on pan evaporation for drip irrigation and basin irrigation.

Western region

Months Normal condition
(for best yield)
Moderate water scarcity condition Severe water scarcity condition
A. Drip irrigation
February to May 65 lit / day 45 lit/ day 22 lit / day
January, August and   
55 lit / day 35 lit / day 18 lit/day
June and July,  
October to December
45 lit / day 30 lit/ day 15 lit / day
B. Basin irrigation
February to May 410 lit / 6 days *  
January, August and 
410 lit /7 days*
June and July,  
October to December
410 lit /9 days*

Eastern region  

Months Normal condition
(for best yield)
Moderate water scarcity condition Severe water scarcity condition
A. Drip irrigation
  March - September 80 lit / day 55 lit / day 27 lit/day
 October – February 50 lit / day 35 lit/ day 18 lit /day
B. Basin irrigation
 March – September 410 lit / 5 days*  
 October – February 410 lit /8 days*

* Quantity of water to be applied in the basin. Add 30-40 % Of the above quantity of water  (135 -165 litres/palm) to meet the conveyance loss.

For drip irrigation, open four pits size of 30 x 30 x 30 cm opposite to each other at one meter distance from the trunk. Place 40 cm long PVC conduit pipe (16 mm) in a slanting position in each pit and place the drippers inside the conduit tube and allow the water to drip 30 cm below the soil surface. Fill the pits with coir pith to prevent evaporation.

In the first year, irrigate on alternate days and from the second year to the time of maturity irrigate twice in a week based on the water requirement.

Coconut Drip
Drought management and soil moisture conservation

a.  Mulching with coconut husks/leaves/coir pith 
Apply coconut husks with convex surface facing upwards (100 Nos.) or dried coconut leaves (15 Nos) or coir pith up to a height of 10 cm in the basin of 1.8 m radius around the palms as mulch for soil moisture conservation particularly during summer season.

b.  Burial of coconut husk or coir pith
Husk burial can be done in coconut basins or in the interspaces to overcome drought and button shedding.  Bury husks  @ 100 Nos. with concave surface facing upwards or 25 kg of coir pith /palm in circular trenches, dug 30 cm width and 60 cm depth at 1.5 metre radius.  The husk can be also buried in the trenches at a distance of 3 m from the palm with a size of 45 cm deep and 150 cm width in between two rows of coconut. The soaking of the coconut husk or coir pith as the case may be preserves the monsoon rains.

c.  Manuring
From 5th   year onwards, apply 50 kg of FYM or compost or green manure. 1.3 kg urea (560 g N), 2.0 kg super phosphate (320 g P2O5) and 2.0 kg muriate of potash (1200 g K2O) in two equal splits during June – July and December – January.  Apply manures and fertilizers in circular basins of 1.8 m from the base of the palm, incorporate and irrigate. During 2nd, 3rd and 4th year ¼, ½ and ¾ doses of the above fertilizer schedule should be adopted respectively.  Sufficient moisture should be present at the time of manuring.  Fertigation may be done at monthly intervals with 75% of the recommended dose of the above fertilizers. Phosphorous may be applied as super phosphate in the basins and incorporated or as DAP through drip when good quality of water is available. TNAU micronutrient mixture is recommended @ 1.0kg/tree/year.

TNAU Coconut Tonic Nutrition
For nut bearing coconut, root feed TNAU coconut tonic @200ml/palm once in six months.

Bio-fertilizer recommendation

  • 50 g of Azospirillum
  • 50 g of Phosphobacteria  ( or ) 100 g Azophos
  • 50 g of VAM

Mix all the contents in sufficient quantity of compost or FYM and apply near feeding roots once in 6 months / palm starting from planting. Don’t mix with chemical fertilizers and pesticides

Organic recycling
Any one of the green manure crops like sunhemp, wild indigo, calapagonium or daincha may be sown and ploughed in situ at the time of flowering as a substitute of compost to be applied.  Sow sunnhemp @ 50 g/palm in the basin and incorporate before flowering. Coir pith compost/vermicompost made from coir pith/ coconut leaves/ other wastes from coconut grove can be applied. 

                The inter-space in the coconut garden has to be ploughed twice in a year in June-July and December - January. Intercultural operation is essential to keep weed population under check, to enhance the utilisation of the applied plant nutrients by the coconut trees, to facilitate proper aeration to the roots of coconut, to induce fresh root growth.

Weed management
          For the broad-leaved weeds, pre-emergence spraying of atrazine @1.0 kg a.i./ ha for the control of grasses and sedges. Post emergence spraying of glyphosate @ 10 ml and 20 g ammonium sulphate/litre of water.

                 Inter/mixed crops may be selected based on the climatic requirement of the inter/mixed crop, irrigation facilities and soil type. The canopy size, age and spacing of the coconut are also to be considered. Market suitability should be taken into consideration before selecting an intercrop.

A.  Below 7 years of age: Any suitable annual crop for particular soil type and climatic condition may be raised as intercrops upto 5 years after planting depending upon the canopy coverage. Groundnut, sesamum, sunflower, tapioca, turmeric and banana can be grown.  Avoid crops like paddy and sugarcane etc.

B.  7 – 20 years of age: Green manure crops and fodder crops (Napier grass and guinea grass) alone can be grown.

C.  Above 20 years of age (20 years of age has to be adjusted based on the sunlight transmission of above 50% inside the canopy): The following crops can be grown depending on the soil and climatic suitability.

(i) Annuals   : Groundnut, bhendi, turmeric, tapioca, sweet potato, sirukizhangu, elephant foot yam, ginger, pineapple
(ii) Biennials   Banana.  Varieties Poovan and Monthan are suitable.
 (iii)Perennials    Cocoa*, pepper* (Panniyur 1 or Panniyur 2 or Panniyur 5   or Karimunda), nutmeg* and vanilla*
*Suitable  areas in Pollachi tract of western region and  Kanyakumari district.  For vanilla, use disease free planting material and maintain high vigilance to maintain a disease free crop.

Multiple cropping system

Coconut + banana + sirukizhangu + bhendi is suitable system for the eastern region. Crops like banana, pepper, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla can be tried under multiple cropping system in suitable areas in the western region.  In all the systems, apply recommended quantity of water and manures and fertilizers to the intercrops separately.


1.  Rejuvenation of existing garden
      The low yield in vast majority of gardens is due to thick population, lack of manuring and irrigation. These gardens could be improved if the following measures are taken.

  • Thinning of thickly populated gardens: In the farmer’s holdings where thick planting is adopted, many trees give an yield of less than 20 nuts/palm/year. By cutting and removal of these trees, the yield could be increased. Besides, there is saving in the cost of cultivation and increase in net profit. After removal of low yielding trees, the populations should be maintained at 175 palms/ha.
  • Ensuring adequate manuring and irrigation: The yield can be increased in the existing gardens when manuring + irrigation + cultural practice is adopted as per recommendation.

2.  Pencil point disorder (Micronutrient deficiency)
Because of micronutrient deficiency, the stem will taper towards its tip with lesser number of leaves. The leaf size will be greatly reduced and the leaves will be pale and yellow in colour. Along with the recommended fertilizer dose, 225 g each of Borax, Zinc sulphate, Manganese sulphate, Ferrous sulphate, Copper sulphate and 10 g of Ammonium molybdate may be dissolved in 10 litres of water and poured in the basin of 1.8 m radius. This disorder can be corrected if noticed early.  Severely affected palms may be removed and replanted with new seedlings.

3.  Button shedding
      Shedding of buttons and premature nuts may be due to any one of the following reasons:

  • Excess acidity or alkalinity
  • Lack of drainage
  • Severe drought
  • Genetic causes
  • Lack of nutrients
  • Lack of pollination
  • Hormone deficiency
  • Pests
  • Diseases

The following remedial measures are suggested.

a.  Rectification of soil pH
Excess acidity or alkalinity of soil may cause button shedding. If the soil pH is less than 5.5, it is an indication of excess acidity. This could be rectified by adding lime. Increase in alkalinity is indicated by soil pH higher than 8.0. This situation could be rectified by adding gypsum.

b.  Providing adequate drainage facilities
Lack of drainage results in the roots of coconut trees getting suffocated for want of aeration. Shedding of buttons occur under such condition. Drainage channels have to be dug along the contours to drain the excess water during rainy season.

c.  Management of young coconut gardens under waterlogged conditions

  • A trench between two rows of young coconut palms should be dug during onset of the monsoon rains. The size of the trench is 3 m width, 30 – 45 cm depth to entire length of field. The soil excavated from the trench should be placed along the rows of palms to make a raised bed.
  • Form mound around the young palms to a radius of 1.2 m width with height of
    30 –45 cm.

d. Genetic causes
In some trees button shedding may persist even after ensuring adequate manuring, irrigation and crop pest and disease management. This is an indication of inherent defect of the mother palm from which the seed material was obtained. This underlines the need for proper choice of superior mother palm for harvesting seed coconut to ensure uniformly good yielding trees.

e.  Lack of nutrition 
      Button shedding occurs due to inadequate or lack of manuring. The recommended dose of manurial schedules and proper time of application are important to minimise the button shedding. Apply extra 2 kg of muriate of potash with 200 g of Borax/palm over and above the usual dosage of fertilizer to correct the barren nuts in coconut for period of 3 years. 

Boron deficiency or crown choke disorder : Apply 200 g of borax/palm/year in two splits.

f.   Lack of pollination
Button shedding also occurs due to lack of pollination. Setting up of beehives @ 15 units/ha may increase the cross pollination in the garden. Further the additional income obtained through honey, increases the net profit per unit area.

g.  Hormone deficiency
The fertilised female flowers i.e., buttons shed in some cases. By spraying 2, 4- D at 30 ppm or NAA 20 ppm (2,4-D 30 mg or NAA 20 mg per litre of water) on the inflorescence one month after opening of the spathe, the setting percentage could be increased.

h.  Pests
Button shedding may happen due to the attack of bug. Spraying of systemic insecticides like Methyldematon 0.025% (1ml/lit) or Dimethoate 0.03% (1ml/lit) may reduce the occurrence.

i.  Diseases
Button shedding also occurs due to disease incidence such as basal stem rot. Adoption of control measures suggested for the disease reduces not only spread of the disease but also prevents shedding of buttons.


      The need collecting seed materials from high yielding coconut palms is highly essential in a perennial crop like coconut.

      The following points may be remembered.

Mother palm selection

  • Select seed gardens, which contain large proportion of high yielding trees with uniformity in yielding ability.  Trees growing closer to households, cattle shed, compost pits and other favorable conditions should be avoided.
  • High yielding mother palms giving not less than 100 nuts/palm/annum should be chosen for collecting seednuts. Alternate bearers should be avoided. The age of the palm chosen be middle age i.e., from 25 to 40 years. Even trees with 15 years age can be selected, if it is high yielding and has stabilized yield.
  • The mother palm should have straight trunk, spherical or semi spherical crown, high rate of leaf and spathe production, short and stout petiole, more number of female flowers regular bearing habit, non – buckling bunches, high setting parentage, medium in nut size, high copra outturn and free from pest and diseases.  A good regular bearing mother palm produces on an average one leaf and an inflorescence in its axil every month. So, there will be twelve bunches of varying stages of maturity at any one time. Avoid trees producing habitually barren nuts.
  • Harvest seednuts during the months of February - August to get maximum germination and good   quality seedlings. Harvest the bunches intended for seednut by lowering them to the ground using a rope to avoid injury to seednuts.
  • The seednuts should be round in shape and when tapped by finger should produce metallic sound. Fully ripe nuts develop twelve months after fertilisation.
  • To get more quality seedlings, the seednuts of tall and hybrid are to be air cured for one month followed by sand curing for two  months.  For dwarf varieties, the air curing should be lesser than one month followed by sand curing for two months.

Nursery management 

  • Select nursery area in a well drained plot with coarse texture soil near water source for irrigation. Nursery can be raised in the open space  with artificial shade or  in the adult coconut garden.
  • Plant seednuts in a long and narrow beds at a spacing of 30 x 30 cm either horizontally or vertically in deep trenches with 20-25 cm depth. Five rows of nuts may be planted in each bed accommodating 50 nuts per row.
  • Irrigate the nursery beds once in three days.
  • Keep the nursery free of weeds. To manage the weed problem in coconut nursery, growing sunnhemp 2 times (each harvested at flowering stage) followed by one hand weeding at 6th month was found to be very effective besides yielding green manure for manuring the adult coconut palms.
  • Provide shade to the nursery by raising Sesbania or Leucaena on the sides of beds.
  • The seednuts start germination 6 – 8 weeks after planting and germination continues upto six months. Select seedlings that germinate before 5 months after planting. Remove those nuts which do not germinate 5 months after sowing.
  • Regularly survey for pest and diseases
  • Select seedlings 9 to 12 months after planting. Seedlings, which have germinated earlier, having good girth at collar and early splitting of leaflets, should be selected for planting. Do not select the so called Kakkamukku Pillai i.e., seednuts which have just germinated. Eliminate the seedlings which are deformed or having stunted growth.
  • Remove the seedlings from the nursery by lifting with spade. Do not pull out the seedlings by pulling leaves or stem.
  • Select quality seedlings with a minimum of 6 leaves and girth of 10 cm at collar.


Root feeding of TNAU Coconut Tonic @ 200 ml / palm twice a year at six months interval decreases button shedding and increases the number and size of nuts.

Updated on : 17.06.2013