Here Are the Main Signs Your Oil Palms are Lacking Nutrients

As an oil palm plantation owner, there are many challenges and issues that need to be solved. In order for the production level to reach its optimum level, you would need to handle pests, diseases and various other things. One of the more outstanding problems affecting oil palm trees are malnutrition.

Most of the oil palm plantations in Malaysia are several decades old, or have been replanted over land that used to be planted with coconuts. Prolonged agricultural activity over several decades on the same location can deplete the soil of its nutrients.

Here are some of the signs that your palms need fertilizers:

Palm Fronds Turning Yellow

The most obvious signs of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium or N, P and K are a yellowing of the leaves. In oil palms this usually starts off with light green or yellow spots on older leaves.  These spots will turn reddish orange or just orange. If no fertilizers are applied, the leaves will start browning from the outer borders inwards.

The entire frond will eventually die and fall off prematurely. Usually, the leaves are the first to exhibit the effect of nutrition deficiency as they are the parts that conduct photosynthesis and make food for the rest of the palm.

Smaller Fruit Bunches

The health of an oil palm tree can be judges by the fruit bunches it produces. Unhealthy palms that don’t have enough fertilizers may produce fruit bunches that are smaller than usual. Additionally, the entire oil palm may produce less fruits on average.

If your palms are producing less fruit all of a sudden and no illnesses can be detected, there’s a high chance that this is due to a lack of proper minerals in the soil.

Shorter and Unhealthy Roots

When the oil palm doesn’t get adequate nutrients, it shows in the length of the roots. Oil palms usually grow individual roots that originate from the base of the trunk. Boron deficiency will cause the tips of the roots to wither and dry out.

Additionally, an overall lack of nutrients can cause the roots to be very short. This can really affect the stability of the palm. Palms without an adequate grip in the soil can fall over during heavy winds and rains.


Disfigured Fruits and Leaves

Palms that aren’t growing healthily may often show early signs by producing gnarled leaf fronds or unusual looking fruit. If you notice a number of these occurring in a certain area, you should not dismiss it and should take the necessary steps. The lack of nutrition in palms sometimes results in mutations that happen at random.

Slower or Stunted Growth

This symptom has to be observed over a longer period of several months, especially in younger palms. A lack of nutrition in the soil can cause stunting too, where the palms are shorter and don’t start producing fruit until very much later compared to other palms.

Conducting regular checks on your oil palms are necessary to determine which areas need fertilization. This practice can also prevent over-fertilization  from random application,which can be dangerous for the palms.