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R & D Updates On Coconut Varietal Improvement And Production Of Synthetic Coconut Varieties In The Philippines

The varietal improvement program of PCA since 1972 is presented in this paper. The objectives of the program are: 1) to improve the yield of coconut varieties through the utilization of heterosis or hybrid vigor between populations of distant origins; 2)to improve the precocity and dwarfness of local populations; 3) to screen and breed for pest and disease resistant varieties; and, 4) to breed for widely adaptable coconut genotypes. 

To carry out the breeding program and meet its objectives the following components were included: a) recruitment and training of manpower on correct techniques in hand pollination and data gathering; b) survey and collection of indigenous coconut varieties; c) introduction of exotic coconut ecotypes; d) establishment, evaluation, maintenance, and conservation of the collected varieties; e) improvement of the facilities for breeding and selection; f) in situ evaluation of indigenous coconut varieties to obtain superior base populations for hybridization work; g) hybridization of dwarf x tall, tall x dwarf, and dwarf x dwarf ecotypes; h) field evaluation (National and regional testing of promising coconut hybrids and cultivars, and farmer’s field testing of PCA recommended hybrids and varieties), i) Genotype evaluation in cadang-cadang infected areas; and j) establishment of coconut seed gardens and seed farms in strategic coconut growing provinces of the country.

Breeding for a synthetic or a composite variety is an approach that has been proposed a long time ago in India and Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the success of hybrid varieties in coconut suppressed the interest in other methods of breeding and relatively little or no attention has been given to the development of synthetic or composite varieties.

In PCA, the possibility of producing a synthetic coconut variety was initiated in 1979 with the establishment of selfed lines (1) of Laguna and Bago-Oshiro (BAO) tall coconut populations at the Zamboanga Research Center. It was hypothesized that the allogamous nature of tall coconut varieties makes them suitable parents for a synthetic variety.

This variety is now used to establish seedfarms nationwide.

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