An oil palm tree is a perennial crop that takes several years to grow and start fruiting. It is not uncommon to see oil palm trees bearing fruits for the first time after 6 years. Even, the new hybrid varieties of oil palm can take up to 4 years before it starts fruiting.
Oil palm farming is lucrative especially in Nigeria. Nigeria produces less palm oil than its population requires.
The question is now, how to do you make an oil palm tree to grow faster. There are several strategies you can use to speed up the growth of your oil palm trees.
Strategies to Use to Make Oil Palm Trees Grow Faster
The following are some of the tactics that can be implemented to make an oil palm tree grow faster:
The Use of the Right Fertilizers
Oil palm farmers and indeed most farmers in Nigeria do not use fertilizers. The worse of it is that they do not even do any soil test to know the nutrients profile of their soil. Using the right types of fertilizers for your oil palm trees can speed up the growth of the crop.
The use of high phosphorus fertilizers at the early stage, use of high nitrogen fertilizers at the vegetative stage and the use of high potassium and calcium fertilizers at the flowering and fruiting stage can significantly enhance the growth of the oil palm crop.
Micronutrients, farmyard manure and compost should also be used. The use of the wrong type of fertilizers can harm the oil palm tree and slow its growth.
The Use of Drip Irrigation
Most oil palm farmers rely on the rains for the growing of their crop. In Nigeria, farmers only plant their oil palm seedlings during the rainy season. The oil palm trees also get water only during the rainy season months which last for about 4 – 5 months. The trees go without water for the rest of the months in the year.
Can you imagine the growth rate of an oil palm tree that gets water all year round through irrigation and one that only relies on rains during the rainy season months?
Drip irrigation enables the dropping of water in a trickle manner to the root zone of plants. It ensures all year round cultivation of crops. With drip irrigation, the growth of oil palm trees can be sped up.
Fertigation which enables the passing of soluble fertilizers to the roots of crops can also enhance the growth of oil palm trees.
Weeds share nutrients and water with the main crop. They can also harbor pests and diseases that can affect the main crop.
The control of weeds in oil palm farming can make the growth of oil palm trees become faster. Weeds can be controlled with the use of herbicides. They can also be removed by hand or mechanically.
The mechanical removal of weeds is usually faster than the hand removal of weeds.
Pests and Diseases’ Control
The activities of pests like insects, aphids, nematodes and mites etc. can negatively impact the growth of the oil palm tree. Diseases can also limit the growth of the oil palm crop.
Pesticides should be used to prevent diseases and pests. In the control of pests and diseases, prevention is always better than cure. Some oil palm diseases like viral infections are not curable but they can be prevented.
Planting Hybrid Varieties of Oil Palm
The conventional open pollinated variety of oil palm planted by farmers in Nigeria stay for several years, up to 6 years before it fruits.
The planting of hybrid oil palm varieties can significantly reduce the time to maturity and fruiting of the oil palm crop. Some hybrid oil pam varieties start fruiting after 3 years.
Do you know other methods to make oil palm trees grow faster? If yes, why not share with us in the comments’ section.