Coconut Harvesting 101: Tools and Techniques

Coconut Harvesting 101: Tools and Techniques

It usually takes about a year to harvest all the nuts from a coconut tree. The whole coconut seed, which is used to make copra and a number of other culinary products, must be harvested every 30 to 45 days. When you collect coconut palm plants, most houses hold them vertically. This usually happens when a person is somewhat older. Except in the unlikely circumstances of harvesting brittle nuts, 7- to 8-month-old nuts are normally carried to harvest.

These nuts can also be obtained with coconut climbers. Nuts that are at least 11 months old often contain more fibre and are of higher quality. Simply put, this specific variety of coconut benefits the most from the use of coir. However, when it comes to tall coconut plants, the nuts are harvested to form seeds, which can be stored for up to two to three months before it is ideally ready for sowing.

However, in the case of dwarf coconuts and other coconut hybrids, coconut seeds should always be sown in advance for a period of about 10 to 15 days, very long before the coconut harvesting begins. This is not always the case, although the coconut palm plant has the potential to produce inflorescences every month. We can expect an average of about eight harvests in total.

To get the oil out of the nuts for use in making copra, they are frequently placed outside to dry in the sun. In this case, there is a good likelihood that contaminants will build up as the oil's quality degrades and that the coconut seeds will be dried in the sun or using one of the drier types of available drying methods. Any high-quality copra that can be produced fast is dried in these machines. The moisture content of copra should be between 5 and 6 per cent if it is to be utilized in its final state. It is advised to store dill in tar-coated polyethene bags for optimum yield after harvest. WCT coconut palm trees typically produce between 1.7 and 2 tonnes/ha of oil under rainfed circumstances, which tends to be of higher quality. Production of WCT coconut palms in rainfed conditions—typically 1.7 to 2 tons/ha—tends to be of a higher grade.

Techniques of harvesting on coconut plantations

When it comes to coconut farming, common harvesting methods frequently have a big influence on the crops and the circumstances before harvest. The best coconut farms are those that cannot compromise on the amount of land needed and produce the most in challenging climatic circumstances. In addition to numerous other factors, they affect several popular coconut harvesting methods, including:

● Climbing cycle/equipment

● A coconut tree climber

Method of Coconut Harvesting

Coconut harvesting is commonly done with someone climbing the tree using the help of a rope which will be tied around their feet and ankles to get a better grip while climbing. This will act as a ladder in the climbing process. Once the person who clubs the coconut tree reaches the top, the climber taps the nut in its very lowermost bunch. This is done mostly to test its maturity.

If the climber is okay with the level of maturity of the coconut planting, he will then cut the bunch of the base and the stalk which will then drop to the ground. The process can be tedious and the coconut tree climber will have to be very precise with his every step. However in cases where the ground could be very hard or if the tender nuts are meant to be harvested then the bunch is carefully lowered using a separate rope.

The climber also attempts to clean the crown and effectively removes any dry leaves or sheathes as well as spathes. In tracts where the coconut leaves are required for thatching houses, a few leaves right from the lowermost section are cut down at the time of the harvest. This is a common practice in most west coast regions.

Mainly the cutting down of green leaves is also considered to be an undesirable practice as it can affect the yield of the trees to a very large extent. In some of the prominent places where the trees may not be so tall, the coconut harvesting process can be done by cutting the bunch with a sharp knife which will ideally be attached to a long bamboo pole.

The nuts that are kept for storage are later used for making ball copra and are not necessarily harvested till they can be completely ripe and dry.

Post Coconut Harvesting 

In the post-coconut harvesting process, the fully matured coconut palm plants should be harvested at a time that is favourable for the coconut and its yield. For this, the collection of the seed nuts and the tender coconut bunches should be harvested at the appropriate time and brought to the ground carefully using a strong rope. This will help to prevent any possible damage to the nuts. For the collection of seed nuts or tender coconuts, the bunches should ideally be harvested and brought down using ropes that can help prevent further damage to the nuts.

It's a significant fact that the copra can be dried up to 6% moisture by merely sun drying it or by using a large copra drier present in the coconut farm. While the overall storage period of copra can be increased up to 6 months, storing the entire copra in a neat and clean polythene tar-coated gunny bag, can be prevented any possible damage. For effective household storage, the nuts of the coconut palm plants may be kept in a vertical position to protect the yield effectively. Some of the coconut harvesting processes done after the yield is brought down are:

Dehusking: This is a manual process that can be done with the help of an iron rod that is driven to the ground in a highly strenuous and skilled-oriented manner. At the moment, mechanical devices are mainly used for dehusking purposes.

Copra Processing: In the case of copra processing, the optimum moisture content needed in the copra is usually about 5-6 per cent. Some of the common methods used in this process include sun drying, smoke drying, indirect hot air drying, as well as kiln drying which are some of the commonly used drying methods.

(i) Sun Drying: This is ideally a traditional system of copra drying which is typically by spreading the cups of a few split-open coconut palm plants onto an open surface which can then be kept for drying under the sun. This process usually takes about 8 days for the entire drying process to be complete. The deposition of dirt and other dust particles on wet coconut plantings during the process of sun drying usually results in the deterioration of the copra quality. Further, experiencing much more deteriorated weather, or a cloudy climatic condition along with a lowered atmospheric level in terms of the temperature will greatly add up towards the reduction in the quality of the copra.

Yield from the coconut farm

Under favourable conditions, the coconut palm plants tend to enter the flowering stage in about five to six years from the year of planting. In the condition of loamy soils, it may generally take about seven to ten years, and in poor soils, it may even take as late as fifteen years to nearly twenty years after the process of coconut planting.

Within the first five years after the overall commencement of the flowering stage, the coconut tree will generally begin to yield normally. However, improper manuring, excessive inter-cultivation, and over-irrigation are known to delay or reduce the chances of flowering and bearing. Usually, the yield of the nuts from the coconut tree can vary considerably. But this always depends on several factors that are at play such as the soil, the overall rainfall, and the seasonal conditions. The variety that is planted at the overall age of the trees, manuring, inter-cultivation, and the effect of pests and diseases.

Properly maintained and regularly cultivated, the manured gardens usually come with loamy soils under unirrigated conditions that have a yielding capacity of about sixty to hundred nuts per tree over an entire year. While it will definitely result in the overall capacity of the tree nuts being able to derive the maximum during the time of its yield, better yield is possible only in alluvial soil. However, in poor soils and neglected gardens there is a common tendency that the yield can even come below the scope of the annual quota of nuts for a coconut tree.

Tools for coconut harvesting

Tree climber: In order to conduct coconut harvesting at a much faster rate, the TNAU, Coimbatore Center has developed a tree climber that comes with better safety measures. This tree climber is developed to allow the climber to be free from any possible accident risk during the operation of coconut harvesting.

Constructional Details: This kind of climber is made of a square pipe that generally consists of two components. The adjustable belts usually connect all the components. The upper component is fully provided with a seating arrangement and the lower component has a provision for holding the foot. The rubber cushioning is mainly provided at the portion of frames, which would come in contact with a tree in order to avoid any damage to the tree.

Performance of machine: By effectively standing on the lower component, The climber can ensure that the upper component can be moved up or down over and across the tree. The operator can safely climb the coconut tree which will be 10 m in height in 1.5 min without any risk.

Techniques for coconut harvesting

The coconut doesn't come any fresher than when they're just picked right off the tree. Therefore gathering mature coconuts doesn't always require any special tools or know-how—once they get ripe enough, they'll just drop right off the tree on their own. To harvest young the coconut plantings, you'll mainly need to either use a long pole with an attached blade that will help to dislodge the fruit from the high branches or aid in strapping on a climbing harness and removing them by hand.

1. Select coconuts that have a diameter of about 6–8 inches 

Usually, young coconut plantings are smaller than the older ones since they haven't yet finished growing to their fullest potential. In fact, a mature coconut palm plant can often grow up to Those that are not yet fully ready for collection and are 25-50% larger. For this reason, it is usually better to judge whether a coconut palm is ripe for harvest or not based on colour or actual texture. Development and maturation of coconut plants that grow in clusters tend to occur at the same rate.

2. To make sure the coconut planting is firm, squeeze it

Each new coconut planting should have a thick, smooth palm with a small hollow in the middle. Halfway through the entire development period, coconut plantings tend to soften a bit and may visibly show slight wrinkles or obvious indentations. As the fruit approaches maturity, the once-smooth skin eventually turns wrinkled and woody. The coconut will need to be hand-plucked and fully matured before it is fully ripe and large enough to fall on its own.

3. Try to choose a golden brown shade of a coconut palm plant

These newborn coconut plantings often start life with a very pale green colour, similar to other fruits. The fruit finally starts to take on a beautiful golden-yellow colour as it ripens. Green coconut farms have coconut palm plants, which are usually around 5 to 6 months old, tend to have the maximum water content, and are best harvested exclusively for drinking purposes. Coconuts often take a year to fully mature. Coconuts ripen at about the same time for more than a year and usually grow in groups of many. The fruit will be ripe in approximately six to seven months from the nut setting.