The Science of breeding new coconut varieties and hybrids is most interesting but unfortunately, also most time-consuming. The gestation period of such work takes decades and if one has a good formula, at least a decade before you can judge the resulting hybrids as being useful or commercially of little or no value. Collecting, processing and using special pollen, is necessary for such research. For those interested, we have made a video on pollen processing.
If one wishes to purify a cultivar i.e. a variety of coconut palm, be it a Dwarf, a Tall or a Hybrid for greater productivity or for ornamental value, learning how to process, store and use pollen is very important. The video below shows you all the steps, from the collection of the male flowers, processing them, collecting the pollen and storing it.
For the researcher, collecting and processing pollen is of immense value for research. One can grow his/her own the palm, wait for it to mature and flower before one can get any pollen. At least 4 years of production from that palm is required to judge if it is a worthwhile specimen to use in research. Generally, it is a ten-year project before you get the pollen. The easier way is to take permission from the owner of the proven palm, and collect the male flowers directly and process the same. You will save 10 years!
If you have a variety that you wish to regenerate, selecting the best of them according to the characteristics you value, and using their pollen on the rest, will give you faster development of the cultivar with favorable characteristics. This is very important for Agricultural Universities or Institutes that maintain the gene pool of various varieties. India has two secure farms of a very large number of international germplasm, one in mainland India and one in the Andaman Islands. When regenerating the variety for its continuity, “selfing” or “interse” breeding after collecting the pollen, is absolutely necessary to keep the genetic material unique and pure.
The Deejay Research Team has made more than twenty field visits to various islands in the Andaman and Nicobar islands over the last 13 years, has identified some very unique and valuable cultivars, has collected nuts and pollen from them, for research purposes. One cultivar produces a coconut that weighs over 2 kgs after being de-husked. Another is extremely short, nicknamed “Deejay Bonsai”. On one trip a coconut was discovered with the fresh kernel measuring 28mm in width – quite unbelievable when one realizes the normal kernel ranges between 8mm to 15 mm. The search for the tree that produced that nut is still on!! On another occasion, due to a broken rudder, adrift on the open sea and finally drifting onto an island, an extraordinarily sweet coconut was found. The team revisited the island a little later, to sadly discover that the palm had fallen into the sea in a storm. C’est la vie!
Pollen processing is necessary for such research.