When planting fruit trees, including coconut, it makes sense to use large planting materials. This means that small seedlings, whether grafted or not, are better grown to large planting size, say 4 to 5 feet tall, before they are transplanted in the field.
The problem with small planting materials (2 to 3 feet tall) is that, if they are planted in the field right away, they could be overtaken by the weeds that can suffocate them. Also, young planting materials when grown in the open are sensitive to too much heat.
The crops that are better grown into big planting materials include various exotic fruit trees like mango, avocado, guyabano, chico, Abiu, jackfruit, longkong lanzones, mangosteen, pummelo, sweet tamarind, and many others.
The seedlings or young planting materials are easier to take care of when they are confined in a partially shaded area. They occupy just a small space and watering them and protecting them from pests and diseases is very much easier. They could be regularly fertilized with either organic or chemical fertilizer, including foliar fertilizer to hasten their growth.
The small planting materials should be provided with a rich growing medium consisting of processed organic fertilizer, carbonized rice hull, top soil and other materials that will enhance good drainage.
When grown in the field, small planting materials will get easily overcrowded by weeds, so if they are not weeded on time, they could die of suffocation from the weeds. The weeds will also rob them of the nutrients in the soil.
The small planting materials that are being taken care of in the nursery should be given ample space so that they will become sturdy plants. If these are fruit trees that are induced to produce branches, they should be topped when they are about two to three feet tall. Foliar fertilizer could stimulate faster branching.
The large planting materials could be planted in the field at the start of the rainy season. At this time, weeds will proliferate, but since the planting materials are large, they are not easily overtaken by the weeds. But if there are pesky viny weeds, these should be removed. This is not very hard to do.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s March 2019 issue.