Coconut farming/Coconut cultivation practices ( Tamil Nadu )


The coconut palm is referred to as ‘Kalpavriksha‘ – the tree of heaven as each and every part of the palm is useful to mankind in one way or other. It provides food, drink, fuel and timber. India ranks third in area and production of coconut in the world. As per 20 04-05 statistics, the annual coconut production in India is 12.83 billion nuts from an area of 1.93 million ha with an average productivity of 6632 nuts/ha.

The four southern states viz ., Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are the major coconuts producing states in India accounting for more than 90 percent of area and production. It has been demonstrated that a four-fold increase in yield can be achieved by adopting scientific technologies in coconut cultivation as compared to the unscientific practices. Thus, there is a great scope for enhancing the productivity of coconut through the adoption of scientific cultivation technologies, which are described hereunder.

Scientific name-Cocos nucifera.


High Yielding Coconut Varieties

List of Tall Varieties List of Dwarf Varieties 
(Tender coconut)
  • West Coast Tall
  • East Coast Tall
  • Chandrakalpa or Lakshadweep Ordinary (LCT)
  • Phillippines Ordinary Kerachandra)
  • VPM – 3 (Andaman Ordinary)
  • Aliyar Nagar 1 (ALR 1)
  • Aliyar Nagar 2 (ALR 2)
  • Tiptur Tall
  • Kera Sagara (Seychelles)
  • Benavali Green Round (Pratap)
  • Phillipines Tall (Chandrathara)
  • Assam Tall (Kamaroopa)
  • Kalpadhenu
  • Kalpa Pratiba
  • Kalpa Mitra
  • Kerakeralam
  • Chowghat Orange Dwarf (COD)
  • Chowghat Green Dwarf (CGD)
  • Chowghat Yellow Dwarf (CYD)
  • Gangabandom
  • Malaysian Dwarf Yellow
  • Strait Settlement Dwarf Green
  • Kalpa Raksha


Soil Requirement for Coconut

Light sandy soils to heavy soils with a pH – 5.2 to 8.0. Proper drainage, good water-holding capacity, the presence of water table within 3 m and absence of rock or any hard substratum within 2 m of the surface. 

Altitude: 600 to 900 m 

Rainfall: 200 cm per year.


Planting seasons for coconut

June – July, December – January

The planting can also be taken up in other seasons wherever irrigation and drainage facilities are available.


Planting Material-

Selection of Seed Gardens

  • Gardens should have palms with a high proportion of heavy bearers but it should be kept in mind that this must not be from very favourable conditions Garden should be free from the pest and disease incidence.
  • Trees growing closer to households, cattle shed, compost pits should be avoided.
  • Certain centres are well known for good quality seed nuts and seedlings, e.g., in Kerala, Kuttiadi in Kozhikode and Chavakkad in Thrissur districts.

Mother Palm Selection
For the production of quality planting materials, it is essential to have good quality mother palms of the desired varieties. In the absence of commercially viable vegetative propagation techniques, only seed propagation is possible. Therefore mother palm selection is a key factor in planting material production of coconut.

The important features of superior mother palms are
  • Regular bearer: 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 with strong bunch stalks. Avoid trees producing habitually barren nuts.
  • Straight stout trunk with even growth and closely spaced leaf scars.
  • Spherical or semi-spherical crown,
  • High rate of leaf (more than 30 fully opened leaves) and spathe production (12 inflorescences)
  • Short and stout petiole and wide leaf base firmly attached to the stem,
  • Short and stout inflorescence stalk with bunches, preferably resting on the leaf petioles of the lower whorl and more number of female flowers (25 or more)
  • The age of the palm chosen is 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.(e.g., Chowghat dwarf). Avoid palms that are above 60 years.
  • High yielding mother palms giving not less than 100 nuts/palm/annum under irrigated condition (70-80 nuts/annum under rainfed conditions) should be chosen for collecting seednuts.
  • Husked nuts should weigh not less than 600 g.
  • Mean copra content of 150 g per nut or more
  • Free from pest and diseases.

Avoid palms which have the following characteristics

  • Palms have long, thin and pendulous inflorescence stalks
  • They produce long, narrow, small sized or barren nuts
  • Palms showing alternate bearing tendency also should be avoided.
  • They show shedding of immature nuts in large numbers and
  • Palms are grown under favourable environmental conditions. E.g. Trees near manure pits.


Spacing required for coconut plantation

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.

  • Planting
    Dug pit size of 3’ x 3′ x 3′. In the pits, 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 a stem, fill up the pits gradually by cutting the sides.


Coconut Nursery management

Nursery Area
  • Select nursery area in a well-drained plot with coarse texture soil near the water source for irrigation. The nursery can be raised in the open space with artificial shade or in the adult coconut garden.
Seed Nut Planting
  • Plant seed nuts in a long and narrow bed 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.


Water management

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

Western region of Tamil Nadu

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 of Tamil Nadu

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.


Drip irrigation in coconut

The root zone of coconut for moisture absorption is concentrated in a circular area of 200 cm radius around the base of coconut tree up to a depth of 100 cm. Irrigating coconut trees by a set of four drippers set equidistant in a circle 100 cm away from the base of the tree and discharging water at the rate of 30 l/h for 2.5 h with an irrigation frequency of 8 days can maximize the wetting area of soils in the effective root zone of coconut.


Drought management and soil moisture conservation in coconut

  1. Mulching with coconut husks/leaves/coir pith 

Apply coconut husks with the 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 the summer season.

  1. 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 a 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 metres 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 preserve the monsoon rains.



Age(Years) FYM(kg/tree) Urea(kg/tree) Super
Muriate of
1 10 0.308 (140 g N) 0.500 (80 g P2O5) 0.480 (300 g K2O)
2 20 0.616 (280 g N) 1.000 (160 g P2O5) 0.960 (600 g K2O)
3 30 0.924 (420 g N) 1.500 (240 g P2O5) 1.440 (900 g K2O)
4 40 1.23 (560 g N) 2.000 (320 g P2O5) 1.920 (1200 g K2O)
5th year onwards 50 1.23 (560 g N) 2.000 (320 g P2O5) 1.920 (1200 g K2O)

Apply manures and fertilizers in circular basins of 1.8 m from the base of the palm, incorporate and irrigate. The fertilizers may be applied in two split doses, in June – July and in December to January.

Bio-fertilizer recommendation

Mix 50 g of Azospirillum, 50 g of Phosphobacteria  ( or ) 100 g Azophos and  50 g of VAM 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

Anyone of the green manure crops like sunn hemp, Calapagonium or Daincha may be sown and ploughed in situ at the time of flowering as a substitute of compost to be applied.  Sow sunn hemp @ 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.


Inter-cultural operation weed management 

The inter-space in the coconut garden has to be ploughed twice in a year in June – July and December – January. The 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 in Coconut

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.


Coconut Intercropping

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.

  1. Below 7 years of age: Any suitable annual crop for particular soil type and climatic condition may be raised as intercrops up to 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.
  2. 7 – 20 years of age: Green manure crops and fodder crops (Napier grass and guinea grass) alone can be grown.
  3. 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.
    Annuals: Groundnut, bhendi, turmeric, tapioca, sweet potato, sirukizhangu, elephant foot yam, ginger, pineapple
    Biennials: Banana varieties Poovan and Monthan are suitable.
    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 a suitable system for the eastern region. Crops like banana, pepper, cocoa, nutmeg, vanilla can be tried under multiple cropping systems in suitable areas in the western region.  In all the systems, apply a recommended quantity of water and manures and fertilizers to the intercrops separately.


Coconut harvesting

  • Twelve months old nuts are harvested at the interval of 30-45 days for seed as well as copra making and culinary purposes.
  • For household use keep the nuts in the vertical direction. However, for tender nut purposes, 7 to 8 months old nuts are harvested. The nuts can be harvested using coconut climbers.
  • Nuts which are 11 months old give fibre of good quality. This is suitable for coir fibre.
  • In case of tall the nuts harvested for seed purpose can be stored for 2 to 3 months period before sowing, whereas in case of dwarfs and hybrids, nuts should be sown within a period of 10 –15 days of harvest.
  • On an average, we can have eight harvests, though the coconut palm produces inflorescence every month.



S.No Variety Nut yield (Nos / tree / year) Earlyness (year)
1 Hybrid 100 3 – 5
2 Tall 60 – 80 6 – 7
3 Dwarf (tender coconut) 70 – 90 4 – 5




  • Central Plantation Crops Research Institute,Kerela.
  • TamilNadu Agriculture University-Agritech portal.


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