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Assessment Of Experience With High Yielding Coconut Varieties In India

Coconut research in India commenced twith the establishment of the first research stations at Kasaragod and Nileshwar in 1916. In the initial years varietal improvement programmes received research priority. A number of exotic cultivars were introduced for performance studies along with indigenous ones. Now, thereore 117 exotic collections and 77 indigenous collections which are made use of for various studies. hybrid combinations involving the The first local West Coast Tall and Chowghat Orange Dwarf were produced and planted in the field in 1932. Since then a number of T x D and D x T hybrid combinations were evolved and made use of for field planting under different agro climatic situations. A total of 87 such combinations are now available for different studies. Among these combinations, chowghat dwarf orange x W.C. Tall in the D x T group and Laccadive ordinary x Gangabondam (local dwarf) and Laccadive ordinary x Chowghat dwarf orange in the T x D group have been found to be superior yielders compared to the parental forms involved. These hybrids have performed  well under diverse situations with capacity to yield up to 2500 Kg oil per Ha per year. Research  is now geared  to achieving qualitative  improvement of the hybrids. The objective is to evolve hybrids possessing stability in production and devoid of undesirable traits such as alternate bearing tendency, bunch buckling etc. The strategy is to use palms of different geographical origin and palms which are homogenous with comparatively better combining ability in the crossing programme. Inbred tails are also made use of in the breeding programme. Because the hybrids exhibit many undesirable traits, the farmers in general do not favour the exclusive use of hybrids in large plantings. However, in appreciation of favourable traits such as precocity in bearing and higher productivity, the hybrids are preferred in homestead plantings. With the qualitative improvement of the hybrids, it is quite possible that both the large and small farm ers in India many opt for hybrids in the future planting programmes. One constraint which inhibits the spread of coconut hybrids is the inadequate availability of planting material. At present the annual production of T x D hybrids is 150,000 which is only 1.5 percent of the annual requirement of planting material. Though seed production farms have been established in different states, production is yet to start.

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