Varieties of Oil Palm


There are three major varieties of oil palm: dura, pisifera, and tenera.

The dura palms have kernels with a thick shell, while the pisifera palms have kernels with no shell. The tenera palm is the cross between the two palm varieties (dura and pisifera). It has kernels with a thin shell. In order to get a lot of oil, the female flowers of a dura palm are fertilized with the pollen from a pisifera palm. Once they are fertilized, the female flowers turn into fruits. The fruits of the tenera palm have a lot of pulp, a thin shell, and a big kernel.

The tenera is an F1 generation (first filial generation) and also a hybrid. This is the reason why you always need to be careful of where you get your planting material. Over the years, there have been cases of Oil palm plantation sterility, a situation whereby your palm will fail to bring out fruits after 3 to 4 years of transplanting.

Many oil palm seedling sellers (non-reputable sources) are now fond of sprouting tenera seeds and raising them to seedlings. Most of these people engage in this dubious act because they do not really understand the implication and the long-term effect.

Sprouting the seed of dura or pisifera may not give you a problem because they are not hybrid.  Sprouting a tenera seed which is an F1 generation will not produce yield like the original tenera because segregation would have happened. The whole plantation may become sterile because the outcome is an F2 generation.

I have visited a farm whereby over 1500 palm trees were sterile even after adding fertilizer and applying good agronomic practices.

In a situation like this, the only recommendation is to cut down the whole tree and start afresh.

Can you imagine the trauma or pain the investor or owner will go through?

Recent complaint of a client

Please, ensure you get your planting material from a reliable source. The case of buying poor planting material is the same as nursing a bastard child.

A friend of mine once said, “the cost of running a DNA test for a baby is nothing compare to the cost of raising the child till age 30“.

If you get seed from an unreliable source, the pain will be more than raising a bastard child.

Below is the stress you will go through before the palm reaches the maturity stage; fertilizer cost, the stress of managing farm labour, weeding, land acquisition, and so on. These articles (Annual or Daily labour: The cost implications and making the right decision, the Current state of AGRICULTURE in Nigeria)will give you more insight into the challenges you might or will encounter during the process of starting a palm plantation. So, you must do everything possible to get the right planting materials.

varieties of Tenera

Do you also know that your tenera can also be of different types in terms of fruit types? Oil palms produce either nigrescens or virescens fruit type.  The most important thing is to get your planting material from a credible source.


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