Cultivation of Palmyrah: Complete guide on Palmyrah tree farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of Palmyrah (Borassus flabellifer) Palmae:
Borassus (Palmyra palm) is a genus of six species of fan palms, native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia and New Guinea. They are tall palms, capable of growing up to 30 m high (98 ft). The leaves are long, fan-shaped, 2 to 3 m in length. The plants are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants; pollination is by both wind and insect. The flowers are small, in densely clustered spikes, followed by large, brown, roundish fruits.
Palmyra Leaves & Fruit Palm
Palmyra Fruit & Palmyra Fruit After removing the skin
The tree also yields many types of food. The young plants are cooked as a vegetable or roasted and pounded to make meal. The fruits are eaten roasted or raw, and the young, jellylike seeds are also eaten. A sugary sap, called toddy, can be obtained from the young inflorescence, either male or female ones. . The toddy is fermented to make a beverage called arrack, or it is concentrated to a crude sugar called jaggery/palm sugar. It is called Gula Jawa (Javanese sugar) in Indonesia and is widely used in the Javanese cuisine. The roots can be dried to form Odiyal, a hard chewable snack. In addition, the tree sap is taken as a laxative, and medicinal values have been ascribed to other parts of the plant.
The Palmyra tree is the official tree of Tamil Nadu. In Tamil culture it is called karpaha,”nungu” “celestial tree”, and is highly respected because all its parts can be used. The recently germinated seeds form fleshy sprouts below the surface which can be boiled and eaten as a fibrous, nutritious food. The germinated seed’s hard shell is also cut open to take out the crunchy kernel which tastes like a water chestnut but sweeter. The ripe fibrous outer layer of the fruits is edible after boiling or roasting. When the fruit is tender, the kernel inside the hard shell is an edible jelly that is refreshing and rich in minerals. When the crown of the tree from which the leaves sprout is cut one can maket a cake. In ancient times, dried palm leaves were used to write manuscripts.
Palakkad District of Kerala State is popularly known as land of Palmyra trees (കരിപനകളുടെ നാട് ). Palmyra trees are known as the icon of this district and has a vast cultural, heritage and literary association. Many novels, stories and poems revolve around these trees The path-breaking Malayalam novel written by the Indian writer O. V. Vijayan, Khasakkinte Itihasam mentions Palmyra trees in various angles. Many people especially in eastern Palakkad live on earnings by tapping Palmyra toddy, which is sold in outlets controlled by co-op societies. The district authorities are taking action to preserve these trees and maintain Palakkad’s identity.
Varieties: SVPR – 1
Palmyra Black Skin Fruit & Red Skin Fruit
Arid, deep sandy & loamy soils are suitable. Dry areas with low rainfall are also ideal.
Seed. Germination of 63.25 % are achieved 6 weeks after sowing
Seed nut should be high yielder of padaneer & fruits, dwarf in stature, early and regular bearer, free from pest & diseases. Select matured fruit bunches and yellow tinch in stylar region. Seeds are stored in shade for 3 weeks. Shrunken, weight less and bored seeds are rejected. Seeds may be directly sown in situ or in nursery to raise the seedlings. For direct sowing 3 – 4 whole fruits are planted in pits (20 cm3) at 10 m apart and half filled with sand and soil mixture. Pit is covered with dried leaves. Sowing may be taken up during rainy months (November). Germination takes place within 3 weeks.
Seeds can be sown in mound formed by keeping sand to form a bed of 1 m broad, 60 cm height or nursery beds built with bricks of 2 m broad, 60 cm height. Seeds are sown in 10 cm space and covered with sand. About 1 yr old seedling is lifted from the nursery and containerized in polythene bags. After rooting transplant in the main field.
3m x 3m (1110 palms/ha)
Generally farmers adopt Sheep penning to the palms. Application of 10 kg FYM/pit before planting. Dosage may be increased biannually till reaching 60 kg FYM/tree/year
Consist of gap filling; inter ploughing, basin rectification in the initial few years,. Gap filling may be carried out by using containerized seedlings. Basin rectification has to be done before rains; it helps collection and storage of rain water.
Pruning of 30 per cent leaves @ 10 per cent in phased manner.
Inter cropping :
Cowpea, moringa, green gram, red gram, bengal gram, ber, amla, pomegranate, west Indian cherry & guava can be intercropped.
Growth and yield :
Palmyrah is a slow grower. First frond appears in about 5 months. First fan shaped tree leaves appears only in the 2nd year. When it attains the height of 12 – 18 m, comes to flowering (13 – 15 yrs) for padaneer (Sweet sap) purpose. Average of 100 – 200 lit obtained for a period of 4 months from Feb – May. Padaneer and fruit yield are highly variable in individual palms.
Extraction of sap (Neera/ Padaneer) from inflorescence is called tapping. According to sex of the palm & age of the inflorescence, different kinds of tappings are available.
Aripanai – In male palm sheath covering the young inflorescence is removed and dried for 3 weeks. End is cut every time & pot is tied (1- 1 ½ months).
Vallupanai – One month old spikes are selected. Each male spike bearing sessile flowers is pretreated by pressing and stroking & 3 – 6 such spikes are brought together, wrapped with leaves and fitted to a pot.
Thattupalai – It has to be done in female palm to soften the tissue by hitting the inflorescence main axis with iron rod.
Kaivetty – employed when the inflorescence is about 2 – 3 months old. Female palms are tapped for a longer period. i.e., April- Dec. and male for Dec – Feb. Sap is collected twice a day. Each time at the end of the collection of sap, a new cut surface is made by thin slicing. Tapped sap is called Neera or padaneer.
150 litres of padaneer / tree / year
24 kg jaggery/ tree / year
Jaggery recovery/litre of padaneer: 180 – 250 g of jiggery
Palmyra palms are economically useful, and widely cultivated in tropical regions. The palmyra palm has long been one of the most important trees of Cambodia and India, where it has over 800 uses. The leaves are used for thatching, mats, baskets, fans, hats, umbrellas, and as writing material.
Different types of Palmyra Products & Palmyra Gong Brush
In Cambodia, the tree is a national flora symbol/emblem that is seen growing around Angkor Wat. The sugar palm can live over 100 years.
In ancient Indonesia and ancient India, the leaves were used as paper to write on, as a kind of papyrus. In India, leaves of suitable size, shape and texture, and sufficient maturity are chosen. They are then preserved by boiling in salt water with turmeric powder. The leaves are then dried; when they are dry enough, the faces of the leaves are polished with pumice stone. Then they are cut in the proper size. A hole is cut out in one corner. Each leaf will have four pages. The writing is done with a stylus. The writing is of a very cursive and interconnected style. The leaves are then tied up as sheaves.
The stalks are used to make fences and to make a strong, wiry fiber suitable for cordage and brushes. The black timber is hard, heavy, and durable and is highly valued for construction, such as for wharf pilings.
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