2010/07/26

Coconut varieties available in Oman

Harvest of bunch on a Tall-type coconut
palm for fruit component analysis
The traditional Omani tall populations constitute the majority of the varieties in Oman. They seemed to be adapted to the harsh growing conditions. They are in danger because there is a risk for them to mix with the imported varieties, especially with the imported Dwarf x Tall hybrids, dwarfs and King Coconut by natural cross pollination. 

Imported varieties in Oman are as follows; 

  1. The Sri Lanka Yellow Dwarf (SLYD) from the Ambakelle seed garden in Sri Lanka. This population is quite heterogeneous, with some palms growing faster than normal dwarf with a bole formation at the base of the trunk. For reproduction/multiplication preferably those having real dwarf habit palms (short stature, slender stem with closely set up leaf scares, short and narrow fronds, short and narrow leaf lets, short bunch stalks etc.) should be chosen. Some of those dwarf palms in Oman produces big fruits, some small fruits, and it must be checked if this difference is due to genetic factors or due to environment effect. Those having very tall growing habit with big bole formation at the base may also be sampled and multiply for variety evaluation purpose. 
  2. Three different strains of variety King Coconut, with oval, pointed and elongated (bottle shape) fruits. These palms were identified as typical King Coconut, a semi tall coconut variety from Sri Lanka. Some of the coconut palms in Oman are looking like King Coconut but with a more pronounced dwarf habit. They could be the Pemba Red Dwarf from Tanzania. In the past many Omani lived in Zanzibar and they could have brought this dwarf a long time ago. 
  3. A red dwarf with oval fruits is also available. It looks like the Chowgat Orange Dwarf of India or the Sri Lanka Red Dwarf that are closely similar. 
  4. Two kinds of hybrids, the MAWA created in Côte d’Ivoire, imported from Malaysia and the CRIC65 (Sri Lanka Tall x Sri Lanka Green Dwarf and Sri Lanka Tall x Sri Lanka Yellow Dwarf) created in Sri Lanka which is locally named Kalim Bahim. These two hybrids are described in the book about coconut varieties by Roland Bourdeix. 

In addition to those varieties, tall coconut palms with yellow fruits can also be seen in farmers’ field in a very few numbers and they looks very much the Gon Thembili variety from Sri Lanka. These palms too should be sampled and planted in a variety evaluation trials. 

The imported hybrids produce very well, often 150 to 200 nuts per palm per year under good management condition with drip irrigation. So we think that the importation of these hybrids was a great success: it allows the concerned farmers to produce at least 50% more coconut fruits than by planting local Talls.

We surveyed 27 of the 30 sites selected for the population dynamic survey for mite populations. Within these sites, we successfully conducted varietal identification for about 85 % of the selected palms. We also identified most of the palms planted in the old experimental fields of the Salalah research station. This visual identification was completed by an analysis of DNA using molecular markers. This analysis should be conducted on at least 100 of the selected palms.

The details of the past coconut variety importation to Oman is given in table 1.

Date
Country
Varieties imported
Remarks
1983
Sri Lanka
1. Philippine Dwarfs (We identified them as Sri Lanka Green Dwarfs)
2. King Coconut
3. Dikiri Pol (We identified them as Sri Lanka Yellow Dwarf)
4. Kalim Bahim (We identified them as dwarf x tall hybrids)
Imported in very limited numbers and planted in a variety block in the Salalah Research Station
1986
Malaysia
Mawa hybrid
Malaysia Yellow Dwarf
Identified within the research station in an experimental plot
March 1988
Sri Lanka
  1. King Coconut
  2. CRIC65 (Tall x Green Dwarf)
  3. CRIC65 (Tall x Yellow Dwarf)
King coconut and CRIC65 can be identified both in Salalah Research station and in Farmers’ field
September 1988
Sri Lanka
Green Dwarf
Yellow Dwarf
Could be seen in Salalah Research Station and in farmers’ field