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DETAILED EXPLANATION OF PALM TREE CULTIVATION, HARVESTING AND OIL PROCESSING

Written By AGRICULTURAL GIST on Wednesday, 13 July 2016 | Wednesday, July 13, 2016

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Oil palm is one of the most important cash crops contributing immensely to the economic development of this country, Nigeria and other African countries. The climatic prevailing in the Southern part of the country favours the growth of this crop. It is grown in Eastern, western and Southern part of the country.
The role of oil palm in Nigeria and Malaysia’s economy cannot be over emphasized.

•    It provides food, raw material for the manufacture of soap, margarine, candle and timber.
•    It contributes over 15% to national revenue and also provides employment to millions of Nigeria.
•    Palm oil is the main cooking oil in Nigeria for example.
•    Palm kernel – palm kernel cake for major ingredient in livestock feed manufacture.
•    For broom, palm trunk for timber.
•    The leaflet is used for making thatched for roofing house.
There are three cultivars of oil palm namely;
I.    The Dura (75% kernel, 25% oil)
II.    Pisifera (25%kernel, 75%oil)
III.    Tenera (A cross between Dura and Pisifera, 50%kernel, 50% oil) (Adopted)
The crop is propagated sexually by seed. Abundant nut and seedless of Tenera varieties of oil palm are now proceed by NIFOR.

•    NURSERY TECHNIQUES
A nursery is necessary for the growing of germinated seeds nuts to produce strong, healthy and viable seedling for field establishment. Sprouted nuts purchased from NIFOR are grown in poly bags for transplanting into the field.
I.    Purchased of oil palm poly bags and other nursery equipments.
II.    Filling of poly-bags with top soil.
III.    Arrangement of spotted poly-bags in rows of 30cm apart.
IV.    Watering of the spotted poly bags with enough water.
V.    Immediate planting of the sprouted nuts purchased from NIFOR into the spotted poly bags with the radical placed downward and plumule upwards.
VI.    Mulching of the spotted poly bags with weathered wood shaven immediately after planting.
VII.    Daily watering.
VIII.    Regular weeding of inter-row.
IX.    Regular spraying against disease (Anthracnose, freckle and blast) with fungicides s Dithane m.45, Perenox and Ridomil plus.
X.    Regular spray against pests (termites, grasshoppers, and small beetles) with insecticides such as Endofalm, Pyrimex and Basudin.
XI.    Shade is not required for oil palm nursery
XII.    The seedlings spent between 15 and 18 months in the nursery before transplanting to the field.

•    FIELD ESTABLISHMENT
Field or plantation establishment is grouped into pre-planting and post planting operation.

•    PRE-PLANTING OPERATION
In this operation, land for oil palm production is demarcated by clearing the boundaries to prevent encouragement into other man’s land. Soil required for oil palm production should be a fairly acidic and sandy loam soil with about 30 – 35  clay content in order to hold enough water .The soil should also be free of hard pans or concentration to allow the roots to branch extensively. The soil should not be water logged. Sandy loam I the most ideal for growing oil palm.

LAND PREPARATION: the land for oil palm should be prepared to remove all forms of shade. The land maybe completely cleared with bulldozer with care taken not to remove the top soil. Alternatively, in the absence of enough funds for bulldozing, the land can be weeded with the felling and burning of all tress.

LINING AND PEGGING: These are two different operations that should be carried out simultaneously on the field during the process of planting oil palm seedling in the field. Lining and pegging is done based on the oil palm spacing of 29 feet and 9 m triangular.
Materials required are:
I.    Tape measure calibrated in meter and feet
II.    Ranging pole of 2.4m height
III.    Pegs of about 1m height.
IV.    Cutlasses.
                                                            
•TECHNIQUES FOR LINING AND           PEGGING
i.    Choose a point at a plainest corner of the plot.
ii.    Construct a right angled triangle from the point measuring 1m along vertical axis, 1.2m along horizontal axis, (or baseline) and finally make hypotenuse from the end of the first line to the second line.
iii.    From the perpendicular or vertical line 1m, if you want your planting to start at angle 900 you start measuring 9m up to the line until you get to the convenient point. This forms the first row of oil palm plantation. The marked 9m points are the oil palm stands.
iv.    In your second row, long the base line measure 4.5m inward before making the first stand by pegging. After the first peg, you continue to calibrate 9m apart until you get to the end of the convenient point.
v.    This method of oil palm lining and pegging will give a plan population of 150 stands per hectare.

•    TRANSPORTATION OF SEEDLING FOR PLANTING
The seedling to be transported from the nursery to the field should be between 15 and 18 months old. Transportation should be done at cool period of the day to prevent transportation shock.

•    HOLING AND DISTRIBUTION OF SEEDLINGS
After lining and pegging, holes are dug at every point of peg based on the size of the spotted seedling. The seedlings are distributed round at the rate of one seedling per hole dug. They are placed beside the holes.

PLNTING OPERATION; the poly bag containing seedling is cut at the base and placed into the sizeable dug hole. The poly bag is then pulled off after which the soil is consolidated. Planting should be done whenever rain is steady.
•    POST-PLANTING OPERATION
FIXING OF COLLARS- Collaring is the fencing of individual oil palm seedling with a protective material against rodent attack. Materials used for collaring are wire netting, thin collars etc. fixing of collars should be done immediately after planting.

WEEDING: weeding should be done regularly and neatly. There are three methods of weeding on oil palm plantation. These are; chemical, mechanical and manual.

CHEMICAL: this involves the use of herbicides. However, in the use of herbicides, care must be taken to prevent the chemical touching the plants. The best herbicide for weeding on oil palm plantation is ASULOX40. This is because, the herbicides has no destructive effects on the plant. In the absence of this chemical, other herbicides such as Gramozone can be used. Also Diuron and round up all at 1 – 2kg/ha could be used.
Mechanical weeding: this involves the use of tractorized implements for ploughing, harrowing and slashing is recommended for adult trees.

MANUAL WEEDING: this is the use of labourers for weeding operation. There are three weeding types adopted under manual weeding. These are ring, row, and total weeding. Ring weeding is carried out t a particular radius round each and every oil palm seeding. Row weeding is the removal of weed along every row of oil palm plant while total weeding is the clearing of weeds in the entire plantation.

•    FERTILIZER APPLICATION
The major nutrients requirement of oil palm is Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium and Magnesium.  Compound fertilizer combining/containing these four nutrients as 12:12:17:2mg is the best for oil palms. Also NPK 15:15:15 could be used. Fertilizer is always applied when the soil is wet and weed-free. A young plant rate of 0.66kg/plant/annum is recommended and this should be applied once or twice. For old plants 2 – 3kg of fertilizer should be applied per tree per annum.

•    DISEASES AND PEST CONTROL
DISEASES CONTROL: the six major fungus diseases of oil palm are leaf spot, Anthranose, vascular disease, Trunk rot, Basal rot and Blast. These diseases are controlled with the use of fungicides like Dithane M.45, Captan, Cumin or Ziran, Benlate, Perenox or Ridomil plus.

•    PEST CONTROL
The pests affecting oil palm are leaf Miner, stem weevil, green mite, caterpillar and grasshoppers. Pesticides such as Nugos, 50 EC, Basudin and Ultracides are used to control these pests.

•    MULCHING
This is a good cultural practice carried out at the onset at the dry season in order to conserve soil moisture, reduce excessive evaporation. The mulching material such as plant refuse or polythene sheets could be used but not be allowed to touch the plants to prevent termites attack.
•    PRUNING
Pruning of diseased fronds to be burnt or buried later is necessary. Also pruning of oldest fronds from the base leaving about 25 – 30 healthy green fronds induce flowering and fruit production.

•    CONSTRUCTION OF FIRE TRACES
Clean fire trace of about 4 – 5 aim wide should be constructed round the farm against fire hazards. This should be done at the onset of every dry season.

GAPPING UP: Missing stands should be supplied/applied at the beginning of every season for about 2 – 3 seasons for plants uniformity and optimum plant population.

•    HARVESTING AND YIELD OF OIL PALM
HARVESTING: (a) IDENTIFICATION OF RIPE FRUITS
Oil palm starts fruiting at the age of three to four years depending on maintenance. The fruits are set to be ripe enough for harvesting. When 2 – 4 loose fruits drop from the upper fresh fruit bunches (FFB). If it easier than this, under ripe fruit will be harvested, if late, harvesting need to high-free fatty acid (FFA) content of the oil.

(b) METHOD OF HARVESTING: chisel, cutlass or pick axe and hook knives are used for harvesting. Harvested bunches are quickly gathered into the processing shed along with the loosed fruit collected. Delay in processing after harvesting should not be more than three days to ensure reduction in free-fatty acid in the oil.

YIELD OF PALM: during the 4th year of planting, the yield is about 3 – 6 tons of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) per hectare per year equivalent to 540 litres of palm oil. However, yield increases progressively until it reaches its peak when the palms are 21 years old. During the peak period, a yield of about 7 – 8 tons of FFB per hectare per year is obtained and this is equivalent to 60 – 65 tons of palm oil.






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