Oil palm Best Practices

(Best Practices)
Relevant: Oil Palm, Oil Palm

Agro-ecological situation

Conditions: Humid tropics (such as in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand) or Semi-arid tropics (such as in India)
Solar radiation: 16 MJ/m2
Rainfall: 1000 to 2500 mm/annum
Relative humidity: 40 to 85%
Mean ambient temperature: 28 ºC
Mean wind speed: 0 to 10 m/sec

Soil suitability: Deep, well drained, fertile fine sandy to clay loams
Optimum soil pH: 4 to 6
Organic carbon: 1.2 to 1.5
Soil bulk density: 1.0 to 1.4
Groundwater table: Below 1.5 to 2.0 m.
Soil to avoid: Waterlogged, alkaline and saline soils

Tenera hybrid (Dura x Pisifera) palms

Planting material
Healthy seedlings 12–14 months of age, 1.0–1.3 m height with 13 leaves and good collar girth.

Planting time
Rainy or winter season or year-round under assured irrigation water supply.

Planting configuration and density
Triangular planting adopting 9 m x 9 m x 9 m spacing to achieve a plant density of 143 palms/ha


  • Prepare planting lines and excavate planting holes with vertical sides.
  • Mix top soil with P fertilizer, organic manure and replace it in the base of the hole.
  • Cut the polybag and place the palm upright in the hole without disturbing soil and root mass.
  • Fill the hole with soil and firmly consolidate around the seedling, supporting it with stake.
  • Following planting, irrigate the plants immediately to avoid any transplanting shock.

Weed control
Circle and path weeding every two months; selective weeding and creeper and vine removal every six months.

Recommended herbicides:
Paraquat (2.2 kg a.i./ha)
MSMA (2.0 – 2.5 L/ha)
Oxyfluorfen (2.0 L/ha)
Glyphosate (2.0 – 2.5 L/ha)
Fluazifop-butyl (1.0 – 1.5 L/ha)
Oxadiargil (0.5 L/ha)

Irrigation system
Use drip irrigation combined with fertigation. Fertigation is the application of plant nutrients through an irrigation system, also known as NutrigationTM. Such a method is required to inject different fertilizers both in nursery and main field plantation.

Nursery: Online PC or Capinet dripper - 1 per poly bag; emitter flow rate – 2 LPH; emitter spacing – 0.9 m and lateral spacing – 0.78 m. 

Humid tropics: One integral dripline (DripNet PC 17350, uniram AS 20010, dripline 17009, Tiran 20010) per row; emitter flow rate – 1.6 LPH; emitter spacing – 0.75 m to 1.0 m depending on the soil texture. 

Semi arid tropics: Two drip laterals per row with eight PCJ drippers per palm of 8 LPH; emitter spacing – 0.75 m to 1.0 m depending on the soil texture.

Crop water requirement and irrigation scheduling
Crop coefficient: Begin with 0.7 Kc and increase it to 1.0 Kc at the plateau phase of the palm.
Nursery stage: 1.4 to 2.8 mm/day equivalent to 1.0 to 2.0 litres/plant/day.
Main field plantation: 2.44 to 5.52 mm/day equivalent to 170 to 386 litres/palm/day.
Seasonal crop water requirement is 1300 mm/annum.
Monitor soil moisture at 20 cm, 40 cm & 60 cm using either tensiometers or IrriwiseTM equipment.

Nutrient uptake is 8 kg nitrogen, 2.5 kg phosphorus, 13.2 kg potassium and 4.2 kg magnesium per ton of FFB.
Recommended nutrient dose is 150 N + 90 P2O5 + 425 K2O kg/ha.

Canopy management and pruning
Retain sufficient fronds and remove surplus fronds to provide optimal leaf area index (LAI).
In young palms canopy management must aim towards optimizing LAI - in older palms through thinning and pruning to maximize light interception and utilization.

Plant protection
Important pests of oil palm include bag worm, nettle caterpillar, rhinoceros beetle, cockchafer, palm kernel borer and rats.
Important diseases of oil palm include crown disease, wither tip, spear rot, marasmius bunch rot, upper stem rot, basal stem rot, vascular wilt, cercospora elaeidis, red ring nematode, etc.

Use bumble bees for effective pollination. These also improve yield and oil content.

Harvest only ripe fruit bunches and collect all loose fruit using high quality harvesting equipment.
Maintain optimum frequency (7 – 10 days) of harvesting rounds.

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