- Food and Cooking
My Coconut Tree
The Parts Of A Coconut Tree
Coconut is a plant that belongs to the family Arecaceae. The botanical name of coconut is Cocos nucifera.
The coconut is located throughout the wet tropical lowlands. It probably originated in the South-East Asia or in the Pacific region from where it reached tropical America.
Coconut trees may reach 15 m to 30 m in height and bear, at the top, a crown of long leaves(palm fronds),each measuring about 3 m to 4 m long. The highest yields are generally obtained from trees grown at 600 m to 900 m above sea level. The major areas of production of coconut include Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, the Pacific Islands, Malaysia, and Mozambique. In West Africa, coconuts grow along the coastal and inland areas where there is good drainage.
It is very important that a farmer should be conversant with the environmental requirements that are conducive for the coconut. Though most species of coconut tree can adapt to a range of climatic conditions, there is still need for a farmer to expose this tree crop to the right environment requirements. The coconut grows well in areas that have an evenly distributed rainfall of about 100 cm to 225 cm per annum. However, it is not suited to regions that have a long dry season. In addition, the coconut palm grows well on well-drained, rich alluvial or loamy soils that permit unrestricted root development and aeration. It also does well on sandy soils of the lithosol type if underground water supplied is within easy reach of the tree roots.
If a grower is making use of loamy soil, pits of size 1 metre by 1 metre by 1 metre filled with top soil to height of 50 cm is recommended. While filling the pits, two layers of coconut husk can be arranged at the bottom of the pit with concave surface facing upwards. This positioning is to ensure moisture conservation.
After arranging each layer, pesticides can be sprinkled on them to prevent attacks from pest.
Spacing is very important. A spacing of 7.5 m x 7.5 m is recommended for coconut. This spacing can accommodate around 150 palms per hectare.
The planting materials are 1- year-old seedlings that should have a minimum of six leaves and a girth of 10 cm at the collar level. On the other hand, in waterlogged areas, `18-24 months old seedlings are preferred. Seedlings of this nature should be selected for planting in the main field.
In coconut farming, the pits are first filled up with top soil and powdered cow dung or compost of up to a depth of 50 cm to 60 cm.Then take a small pit inside this, to accommodate the nut attached to the seedling. Plant the seedling inside this pit and fill up with soil.
Burying 25 to 30 coconut husks per pit in layers will be useful for moisture conservation.
The use of drip irrigation will be ideal for coconut farming, especially in areas of water scarcity. However, in swampy area, coconut can thrive with minimum irrigation.
Regular manuring from the first year of planting is essential to achieve higher productivity
With the right environment requirements as described above and the employment of well-researched and current agronomic practice, a maturing coconut tree can produce first fruit in six to ten years.
Full maturation occurs 15 to 20 years after sowing.
The Valuable Parts Of A Coconut Tree
One can get the following marketable products from the coconut tree:
- Coconut fronds, wood, and roots: During the old times in Nigeria, especially in the rural areas, people use the leaves of the coconut or the coconut frond for thatching, screening and for the construction of temporary walls around their home or their farms. In addition, people can use the midribs of the leaflets to make long brooms that they use to sweep their compound. The wood from the coconut bark can be used for firewood, fencing, and temporary buildings. Individuals can use the roots of the coconut tree can be used by natives as components of medicinal preparation for the treatment of dysentery, mouthwashes, gargle and chewing stick.
- Coconut shell: This is the endocarp of the coconut fruit. The endocarp is the inner region of the coconut fruit. The coconut shell covers the endocarp region of the coconut fruit. This hard structure can be used as firewood and the resultant ash is high in potash, with a composition of 30% to 52% potash. The coconut shell is also used in the preparation of gas absorbent carbons. It can be processed into a high quality charcoal that is used for chemical filters. Finely ground, it produces the coconut shell flour that is used industrially as fillers in plastics where it gives luster to the molded article. It also improves resistance to moisture coconut shell is used for carving smoking pipes, drinking bowls, rubber latex, collecting cups, scoops and ladles, ash trays, flower vases and trinket boxes.
- Desiccated coconut is human delicacy that is prepared from the copra after any brown parings have been scraped off. The white meat is shredded and dried at a temperature of 60 degree centigrade to 75 degree centigrade in hot air driers to a moisture content of less than 2 %.It is then hermetically packed.
- Coconut milk can be obtained by extracting juice by pressing the grated coconut white kernel or by passing hot water or milk through grated coconut, which extracts the oil and aromatic compounds.
Coconut milk has a fat content of around 23 %.When kept in a refrigerator and left to set, coconut cream usually rise to the top and separate from the milk. The milk can be used to produce virgin coconut oil by controlled heating and removal of the oil fraction.
- Coconut water: This white, sweetish liquid is contained in the endosperm cavity. Mature fruits have less liquid than young, immature coconuts.
This liquid fills the endosperm cavity in immature coconut fruits while it shrinks progressively as the fruit mature. The main contents of the coconut water are water, sugars, enzymes, vitamins. Coconut water can be fermented to produce coconut vinegar. When fresh, the coconut water is a pleasant drink and has been known to be medicinal.