Introduction to Coconut seed germination process
The Coconut tree is a member of the palm tree family and proliferates in areas with a tropical or subtropical climate. All Coconut palms require partial shade to full sun and well-drained soil. With proper care, a Coconut will germinate in 3 to 6 months. A germinated Coconut has roots pushing through the husk and also a sharp shoot emerging from the end of the nut. In this article we also discussed below topics;
- Time to take Coconut seeds take to germinate
- How do you germinate Coconut seeds
- Coconut seed germination temperature
- Process for germinating Coconut seeds
- Coconut seeds germination period
A step by step guide to Coconut seed germination
The Coconut tree is a plant that belongs to the Arecaceae family. There are over 150 species of Coconut trees that can be found in 80 different countries throughout the world. The Coconut tree grows only in the tropical climate. The tree grows from a single seed, which is an entire Coconut, taking between 3 and 8 years to bear fruit, and living between 60 and 100 years. Each Coconut tree takes almost a year to develop from a flower into a fruit. Coconut is an important fruit in many parts of the world through humans and is one of the few species that make use of them. Coconut trees are lovely plants that make tasty fruit.
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Flowering and fruiting stage of the Coconut tree
Under favorable conditions, tall Coconut palms start flowering after planting for about 5 years (three years for Dwarf), while the fruit fully ripens after 11 to 12 months.
Usually, only 30 to 40% of the fruits are carried to full term, while most are aborted within three months of pollination. The palm produces 12 to 15 inflorescences (spadices) each year at fairly regular intervals. This means, every month, a new bunch of Coconuts is formed. They continue to grow on the tree until they are ready for harvest, or drop from the tree for propagation and germination. Though, the number of female and male flowers per spadix varies, depending on the variety of the Coconut tree.
Requirements for Coconut germination
Propagation is done by means of the Coconut fruit, which has no dormancy and requires no specific treatment for seed germination. Though, the speed of germination varies within and among Coconut ecotypes and varieties.
Normally, 90% of seed fruits will germinate. The remaining 10% is generally discarded, failing to germinate due to the pathogenic infection of the seed interior caused by the fracture of the shell, after sprouting in the first 3 months. During seed germination, the Coconut haustorium starts to develop. It is a sweet, spongy mass or cotyledon which dissolves and absorbs the endosperm. As it develops, the haustorium depletes both the Coconut water and kernel, which facilitates root and shoots growth in a germinating Coconut seed. Under the good conditions, this germinated Coconut will grow into a seedling.
The seed nuts can be allowed to drop when ready, before being collected, or are harvested by being cut from the palm at a specific stage of development. They can be stored before setting, or set without undue delay.
The seed nuts can be soaked in water or in a nutrient solution, sprinkler-irrigated or only set at the start of, or during, a rainy season. Depending on their shape they can be set on their broadest side or on an edge, or on their base with the eye-end uppermost. Set to half-depth in prepared nursery beds, they can be close together or given space, with or without shade, mulch or irrigation, and left for 7 to 9 months before being lifted as bare-root seedlings for field planting. Alternatively, they can be laid loosely on the ground in a pre-nursery (preferably irrigated) and transferred individually, when a sprout appears, to nursery beds or into polybags, with the option to be field planted when much bigger or older than bare-root seedlings.
The spacing of Coconut plants
In the general square system of planting with a spacing of about 7.5m x 7.5m is recommended for Coconut. This will accommodate 177 palms per hectare. Though, the spacing of 7.5 to 10 m is practiced in various Coconut growing regions of the country.
Selection of Coconut seed nut
Nuts should be collected from gardens with a record of consistently high crop yield which comprises a high proportion of heavy bearers and situated under average conditions without heavy manuring irrigation and free from the incidence of pests and diseases.
Planting of Coconut seed nuts
Methods of the planting of Coconut seed nuts in vogue are horizontal or vertical with stalk-end up or in an oblique position. Although horizontal planting is critically the best over other methods, vertical planting is widely practiced in India, because of easy transportation without damage because of better attachment of shoot to Coconut nut.
The seedlings raised by following vertical planting suffer more from drought and less robust than those from the flat or horizontal method and seedlings obtained by this process are less likely to be damaged at transplanting because the attachment between shoot and nut is much better protected by the husk. With horizontal planting rate of seed germination and subsequent growth of seedlings will be faster compared to vertical planting. Notching hastens the seed germination of vertically planted nuts.
Propagation by Coconut seed nut
Seed nut collection
The seed nuts can be collected throughout the year as and when they have reached the desired maturity level. When seed nuts mature, the husk loses moisture, while the exocarp or skin starts to turn brown. When shaken, the Coconut fruit produces a sloshing sound. This mainly indicates that the volume of Coconut water in the cavity is decreasing.
After pollination, seed nuts generally take 12 months to ripen, around which time they start to fall from the trees. Though, when the seed nuts are collected by picking off the ground, the identity of the female parent is difficult to establish. As such, the fruit is picked directly from the palm, so that the female parent can be identified for seed nut production.
The seed nuts must be selected from a block of uniform palms producing an average of at least 1,500 nuts per ha every 45 days. This is equivalent to an annual 2.8 tons of copra per hectare. Within this block, the selected mother palms must have at least 40-50 full-sized nuts, any time of the year under ordinary farm conditions.
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The time of collection of seed nuts could vary in different regions and the considerations in this collection are;
- The general development of nuts,
- Their capacity for germination,
- The period of storage require and
- The facilities for planting in the nursery.
Seed nuts are harvested during February-May. Seed nuts which are completely matured (11-12 months old) must be cut and lowered by ropes to avoid any damage. However, in a plowed land, this risk is minimized.
Seed nut storage
Coconuts have no dormancy period between seed nut harvesting and seed germination. So, it is not advisable to store fruits over extended periods of time. For varieties with cultivars that germinate early, for example, Malayan Talls, immediate planting with no storage period is advisable. The seed nuts can be picked when they are 11 months old and stored in a dry cool place for longer time periods. To hasten germination, partially or completely brown seed nuts can be stored in a ventilated or open shed for 3 to 4 weeks.
Coconut seed nut planting
Coconuts do not need pre-planting treatment, so seed nuts can be planted directly. To facilitate seedling selection when there is a large number of seed nuts, a two-stage nursery can be used.
- In the first stage, the seed germination bed allows seed nut selection based on the speed of germination. The early germination is generally the best performers, while the slowest germination (about 20-30% from the total seed nuts) are discarded.
- In the second stage of the nursery, seedlings are mainly grown to an acceptable size for out-planting. And seed nuts are laid flat in rows, with two- thirds of the nut buried in coarse soil. Upon seed germination, nuts are pried out, trimmed of exposed roots, and planted back in the field.
Process of germinating Coconuts
Collect a fresh Coconut as soon as it falls from the Coconut tree. These Coconut plants drop the fruits naturally when they are mature. Shake the Coconut near your ear and listen for the sound of sloshing of the milk, which indicates that the seed is viable and does not remove the husk.
Soak the Coconut in a bucket of water for 2 to 3 days and turn the nut frequently to water all surfaces thoroughly. Add a layer of small rocks or large gravel to about 3-gallon pot. Then, combine equal parts of coarse sand and commercial potting soil. Plant the Coconut on its side and leave the top third to half of the nut exposed.
Water the Coconut thoroughly too evenly moisten the soil, but not enough to make it soggy or wet. Then, set the pot in a warm spot in filtered sun, but out of direct sunlight. Coconut palms germinate best with temperatures between 32 and 38°C. Do not subject the germinating plant to a temperature range below 22°C.
Pour warm water gently over the visible Coconut husk slowly each day until the plant germinates. This keeps the exposed husk from becoming too dry and waters the soil enough to keep it evenly moist to your touch. Do not allow it to dry out completely and the Coconut tree will sprout in about 4 to 9 months from planting. It will be mature enough to plant in the ground about 6 months after germination.
Coconut seeds start to sprout
Coconut seeds, like other horticultural life forms, need to germinate in order to produce into new plants. This entails the nut falling to the ground and being buried, similar to how seeds can be planted on a field. A Coconut seed can take up to about 9 months before it starts to sprout. Once several weeks have passed, the outer shell and husk of the nut split apart, and root bursts out.
Selection of Coconut seedlings
Remove seed nuts which do not germinate within 6 months after seed sowing. Select quality seedlings based on the below characteristics. Proper selection of seedlings in the nursery alone ensures a 10% improvement in crop yield.
- Early seed germination, rapid growth, and seedling vigor.
- Having 6-8 leaves for 10 to 12 months old seedlings and a minimum of 4 leaves for 9 months seedling.
- Sturdiness 10-12 cm girth at the collar.
- Early splitting of leaves into leaflets is directly related to the speed of seed germination.
- Free from diseases and pests.
The recovery of quality seedlings will be about 60 to 65%. Since early seed germination is one of the criteria for selection of seedlings, the storing and sowing of seed nuts must be in lots rather than in a staggered manner. The seedlings should be at least 9 to 12 months old at planting. In general, seedlings of 9 to 18 months can be considered the best for plating.
Remove seedlings from the nursery by using a spade just before they are necessary for transplanting in the field. Never allow lifting the seedlings from the soil by pulling on the plant leaves or stem. The roots must be dug out neatly and the nuts gently removed. Then, keep the seedlings in shade and do not expose to the sun. Plant Coconut seedlings as early as possible after removal from the nursery.
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Transplanting Coconut seedlings
The best time to transplant Coconut seedlings is at the onset of the rainy season. Seedlings should be 8 to 10 months old. Eight-month-old transplants give a better idea of their general plant growth and development. Differences in vigor are best seen when the seedlings are still too young to be moved, with the majority of tree leaves still succulent.
Before transplanting, each hold must be applied with fertilizers mixed with soil. In addition, a small amount of organic matter like Coconut husks can be located at the bottom of the hole and covered with soil, leaving about one-third free for the seedling nut to ‘sit’.
For polybagged seedlings, the polybags are first removed, and then the seedling is transplanted. The hold should be covered with loose topsoil, slightly formed at the base of the crown. The top of the nut should be about 5-8 cm below the ground level. Deep planting might suffocate the bud, while the shallow planting might cause the planting material to bend, sway during heavy rains, and windy days. A slight depression towards the base of the crown should be provided to trap rainwater.
Commonly asked questions about Coconut seed germination
How much time does it take to grow a Coconut tree?
Given the proper care and good growing conditions for trees, Coconut palms produce their first fruit in 6 to 10 years but take 15 to 20 years to reach peak production.
How can I make my Coconut grow faster?
The trick to growing a Coconut palm tree is to keep the Coconut well-watered during seed germination without letting it sit in overly wet soil. Water the Coconut frequently but make sure the container drains well. You should see the seedling appear in 3 to 6 months.
Which fertilizer is best for the Coconut tree?
The large green leaves of the Coconut palm require extra nitrogen. Granular fertilizer with a 2-1-1 ratio must be used that contains both slow-releasing and fast-releasing nitrogen.
Which soil is best for growing Coconut?
The Coconut palm can grow in a wide range of soil conditions ranging from laterite, alluvial, red, and sandy loam soil having a pH level range from 5.5 to 8.0. The soil must be fertile and good drainage without any hard substratum within one of the surfaces.
Does the Coconut tree need a lot of water?
Each Coconut palm requires 55 to 120 liters of water every day.
How deep are Coconut tree roots?
Coconut roots grow to a depth of close to 0.80 m with 60 to 90% found in the top 0.5 m of the soil.
Conclusion of Coconut seed germination process
Well, germinating coconut seed is very easy and fun. If you are a commercial coconut grower, you must be aware of selecting healthy seedlings from certified nurseries. You can also germinate coconut seeds as per the instruction given in the above sections. You may use this information for growing coconut palms in backyards; coconut seed sprouting procedure in plant nurseries; germination of dwarf coconut trees; and propagation of coconut plants from seed. You may like the Dragon Fruit Seed Germination, Time Period, Process.