1. A modern oil palm plantation needs a grower who has learned how to cultivate oil palms.

Growing selected oil palms is not just a matter of picking the fruit; it is a modern crop. The grower must learn how to do his work well. He should ask for advice so that he learns to do better and better.

The grower must think about his work and plan it so that he can always do his work at the right time. Selected oil palms give the grower much more work than the natural trees, but they yield much more.

An oil palm grower is a modern farmer. With the money he earns he can buy for his family what they need, and he can modernize his farm.

Before starting think things over carefully

An oil palm begins to produce 3 or 4 years after it has been planted. During that time the grower must spend money and work hard, without harvesting any fruit or earning any money.

2. To make a modern oil palm plantation takes money.

Most often you will have to pay workmen for clearing the site of the plantation and removing tree stumps.

Then you must buy seedlings and fertilizers. Unless you apply fertilizers to the oil palms when they are still young, they will not grow well and you will have to wait a longer time before you can begin to harvest.

You may also have to pay workers to help you look after the young plantation. Weeds must not be allowed to get in the way of the oil palms, and the trees must be protected from damage by rats and agoutis.

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3. To grow oil palms takes a lot of work.

Before planting your oil palms, you have to clear the forest and remove the tree stumps. Then it takes a lot of time to sow the cover crop, dig holes in the plantation, take the seedlings out of the nursery, carry them to the plantation and plant them.

All this work needs to be carefully done; you must take your time.
Never hurry if you want to be successful with your plantation.

Once the oil palms are planted, you must put wire netting around the young trees, you must spread fertilizer and keep watch over the plantation. Young oil palms need a lot of care. It is better to make a smaller plantation but look after it carefully.

Once the oil palms have begun to produce, the fruit must be harvested at the right moment. If you cannot pick the fruit at the right moment, it becomes too ripe, many clusters will drop and the quality of the fruit will be less good.

4. To grow oil palms takes much time and much care.

Do not try to cultivate too large an area, or the work will be badly done. It is better to cultivate a small plantation and to do the work well. A small plantation that is well looked after can yield more than a large plantation that is badly looked after.

Life of the Oil Palm .

5. The oil palm may have a very long life

It is important to know about the life of the oil palm. If you know all about the life of the oil palm, you will understand better how to cultivate them.

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If you do not take care of the seeds, they will germinate only after several years. At the research stations, the seeds are kept in a room where it is always very hot.

6. Each seed germinated is planted in a small plastic container.

A new leaf grows every month. The young seedling stays in the container for 4 to 5 months.

When you see a leaf with two points (bifid leaf) coming up, transplant the seedling out into the nursery.

7. The seedling stays in the nursery for 1 year.

When it has about 15 green leaves, it is planted in the palm grove. The seedling is therefore 16 to 18 months old when it is ready to be planted in the palm grove.

8. When the young oil palm has been planted in the palm grove, it produces male flowers.
The flowers form at the base of each leaf.

For several months, the oil palm produces only male flowers.
After that, for several months, it produces only female flowers.

The male flowers are grouped in spikes.
The female flowers form other spikes.
The male flowers fertilize the female flowers.
Fertilized female flowers turn into a cluster of fruit.

9. The oil palm has no branches.

It has a trunk and leaves. The trunk, sometimes called a stipe, is the stem of the palm.
At the tip of the stem there is one bud – one only:
This is the growing point, which makes the oil palm live and grow.

If the growing point dies, the tree dies as well. The growing point of the adult oil palm produces 20 to 25 leaves every year.
It is most important that the growing point should produce many leaves because there will be a flower at the base of each leaf.
If there are many leaves, there will be many flowers. And if there are many flowers, there will be many clusters of fruit.

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The oil palm grows well and produces a lot in regions where it is very hot, where the sun is very strong, and where it rains a great deal.

Source: FAO.