The Technique of Hybridization
A coconut breeding project involves
The identification of the right level of immaturity of the flower spathe in the dwarf mother palm.
Manually cutting it open to remove every male flower (10,000 plus) in the spathe, without damaging or touching the female buttons.
Scratching the date of emasculation on each leaf stem for the record and easy interpretation of growth in the months to come.
Spraying a protective coat of insect retardants.
Separately preparing little vials of pollen collected from selected Tall palms, processed in and sent from our laboratory in our estate in Madurai under special conditions to preserve the viability.
Manually brush pollinating the female buttons after some days when they mature, one button at a time over a period of 7 to 10 days, as each button matures, requiring a person to visit or climb the tree each time.
Counting the number of buttons for the computerized record of every palm – i.e. “Button count”.
Checking the button count after 120 days for the record and for estimation of production of seednuts and seedlings in the future.
This may be repeated approx 18 times or more per mother palm per month for every spathe that emerges from every leaf.
Nuts are harvested depending on the season and the level of maturity of the nut between 11 months and 13 months of age. The records of every single tree are maintained separately and monthly.
Harvested nuts, gently lowered [from taller] mothers, are stacked and rested for optimum dormancy for optimum germination.
When the water content is at the right level within the nut [checked by the sound heard by shaking the nut] the nuts are selected for quality. Rejected nuts go on sale. Selected nuts go to the nursery bed.
Protection against wild animals [wild boars], white ants etc, grazing animals which will eat the tender stems, is done in the nursery.
After 6 months, seedlings are selected for quality and legitimacy [ensuring that the correct pollen used has prevailed and not the pollen brought by insects, breeze, and bees]. Complete records are maintained.
Destruction of rejected seedlings and record keeping, to block any form of leakage adulteration of good hybrids.
Prior to dispatch, attaching the self-destruct Hologram sticker (to block adulteration) to every seedling
Dispatch of seedlings to customers when they come to collect their orders. Every customer is intimated are the ways in which he can be defrauded by adulteration of his seedlings, and not to accept any seedlings without the Hologram sticker.
The Deejay Breeding Program
For the generation of the next-gen Mother stock
The computer selects the 2% best mothers dwarfs based on productivity taking the average production of the last six years, from among approx 30,000 adult palms each with records that have been computerised.
These 600 highest producing palms are then individually scrutinized, For: – their Tree Characteristics – the age at first flowering [to gauge early production], the number of leaves, the strength of the attachment of the leaf to the palm trunk, for the height of the palm [shortness is preferred over tallness], the number of leaves, the number of leaflets, the length, breadth and the number of leaflets. The nut characteristics – the weight of the nut husked and dehusked, the thickness of the shell, the thickness of the kernel, the weight of the copra, the oil percentage, etc.
Just a fraction of this number of 600 is finally selected, numbered and tagged. These become the “Grand Mothers” of the next generation of mothers.
From this list, the very best palms are selected to be used as Fathers of the dwarf mother line – which is called in-breeding for the concentration of preferable characteristics.
The pollen of the Father Palms are harvested and carefully processed, bottled and labeled, preventing a mix up of the pollen.
Several families are created headed by one [and among the very exclusive best ‘fathers’] Male palm, for pedigreed pollination of the female palms in the family. Every nut is recorded and tagged with a fail-proof tag. The tag has the code of its pedigree secured in the computerisation process.
At maturity, nuts are harvested and planted mother-wise and family-wise.
Records at all levels are maintained and the pedigreed seedlings are again tagged and recorded where and when they are planted’
They are used in the Continuous Improvement Plan or CIP.
The Deejay Continuous Improvement Program
This program has been designed to continuously improve the genetics of the Breeding Farms and hence a steady and continuous improvement in the performance of the Deejay Hybrids.
Every month, each Breeding Farm gets a computerised statement of just half a percent of the Poorest Performing Mothers in each estate.
This 0.5% of the palms are removed.
A pedigreed tagged and labeled Deejay Dwarf mother palm is planted in its place and records of it, as usual, are maintained. This new seedling will hopefully become a super mother or close to it based on its pedigree.
This is repeated every month i.e. 6% of the poorest palms are replaced with the finest pedigreed stock every year.
This means inclusive of the growing period, every 20 years the entire garden will be replaced with extra-ordinary mothers.
This means annually there is a never-ending increase in productivity of the Deejay Hybrids.
This also means a loss of production of seedlings of approx 20% due to the young and growing plants.
This is a huge added cost to the program but considered well worthwhile in the interest of the farmer. The benefit to the farmer is a hundred times more than the cost to the breeding farm.
Deejay always intends to keep itself aligned with its principles of continuous improvement and doing every task in the best way.
As far as we know this program is not implemented anywhere else in the world.