Coconut: Introduction

The yield performances of underplanted cocoa and mixture of dwarf and hybrid coconuts in fields on acid sulphate and non-acid sulphate areas in three coastal estates were compared. The cocoa yields under the heavy shade of coconuts were about 365 to 465 kg per ha per year in the acid sulphate areas against 732 kg per ha per year in comparable non-acid sulphate areas. Coconut yields were 1762 to 2095 kg copra per ha per year against 2439 kg copra per ha per year respectively. Liming from pH 3.9 to pH 4.5 in the topsoil increased copra content per nut and copra yields by 10 per cent and nearly doubled cocoa yields.

Management practices including fertilizer applications, leaf and soil analytical data and water management practices are also described and discussed.

In Peninsular Malaysia, the main areas of established coconut and intercropped cocoa plantations are on the coastal clay soils in the Bagan Datoh, Sabak Bernam/Kuala Selangor and Krian districts. Extensive areas of acid sulphate soils occur amongst the coconut areas. Frequently the presence of acid sulphate soils was not realized until very much later after the coconuts had been planted and when difficulty was experienced in obtaining good results from the under-planted cocoa.

Traditionally, little upkeep and maintenance was carried out in the old coconut areas. Poor performance and yields from the coconuts were often put down to old age of the coconuts and low yield potential of the planting materials. Expectations were therefore low. Information on effects of cultivation practices and management was minimal. With the revived interest in coconuts following cocoa intercropping in the 1960s and the introduction of high yielding MAWA hybrids in the 1970s, more information on coconut cultivation and management has been gathered. However, the research work carried out has been adhoc largely in view of the limited areas of coconuts and cocoa available to support the research programme and other priorities. The problems of cultivating coconuts and cocoa planted in acid sulphate soil areas have not been researched intensively until recently (Zahari et al . 1982). Information on the subject is still lacking. This paper where data from some commercial coconut and cocoa areas on a range of acid sulphate and coastal clay soils are presented may therefore serve as a stop gap measure as further research on the subject is pursued and new information becomes available.

In the group of coconut estates which we were concerned with, updated detailed soil mapping had recently been completed and in this paper, we shall present and discuss our experiences, practices, yield performance and other aspects of management of the coconuts and cocoa which were noted in the acid sulphate areas. A manuring trial was also sited on these soils and the results obtained are also discussed to formulate recommendations for improved performance of the two crops.

Chew P.S., Kee K.K. and Ooi L.H. 1984. Management of coconuts and cocoa on acid sulphate soils. The Planter. Incorporated Society of Planters, Kuala Lumpur 60 (704) : 483-498.

Note: The full list of references quoted in this article is available from the above paper.