Optimal Conditions for Oil Palm Growth
Oil palm trees basically thrive in humid conditions. Temperature ranges from 22°C to 24°C (minimum) and 20°C to 33°C (maximum) are the best for the optimal growth of oil palm trees. These trees require at least 5 to 6 hours of bright sunshine daily with 2500 to 4000 mm of rainfall per year. Therefore, Southeast Asia is the most suitable places for the growth of oil palm as long hours of sunlight and adequate rainfall is available throughout the year.
Oil palm trees can grow on wide varieties of soil types. However, the best type of soil for the growth of oil palm trees is alluvial soils which are rich in organic matter. Highly saline, alkaline, sandy and water stagnation soils should be avoided in order for the healthy growth of oil palm trees.
Oil palm trees grow from the seeds. Seeds used for cultivation are picked from fruits using a depericarper. The seeds are then heated for 75 days at 40°C and then soaked in running water for 4 to 5 days to allow them to cool down. The seeds then start germinating within 10 to 12 days and are transferred to polybags filled with top soil, sand and well rotten manure. Regular watering and mulching is needed for the proper growth of the seeds. NPK fertilizer is used on the seeds before being transferred to the field. The seeds are then planted with space. The space should be left empty with regular weeding and cleaning for at least 3 years. Once the trees grow in the 3 years period, shade loving plants such as flowers, vegetables, chillies, ginger and pineapples can be planted around the trees.