The Oil Palm Tree
The oil palm is monoecious because it bears both male and female flowers on the same tree. It starts producing fruits in bunches after 2.5 – 3 years of field planting, and will continue producing all year long.
A typical oil palm’s bunch normally weighs between 20 – 25 kilograms and contains an average of 1,000 to 3,000 fruitlets. The oil palm’s fruit, or commonly called fruitlet, is almost spherical or elongated in shape. Generally, the fruitlet is dark purple, almost black and the colour turns to orange red when ripe. Each fruitlet consists of a hard kernel (seed), enclosed in a shell (endocarp) which is surrounded by a fleshy mesocarp.
During its lifetime, the oil palm may grow up to sixty feet and more in height and lives up to 100 years or more. The trunks of young, mature trees are wrapped in fronds which give them a rather rough appearance. The older trees have smoother trunks apart from the scars left by the fronds which have withered and fallen off. Due to economic reasons, the oil palm is normally replanted with a newer breed for every 25-30 years.
In Malaysia, the oil palm species commonly planted is tenera, a hybrid between dura and pisifera species. Tenera is chosen because it gives a good ratio of palm oil and palm kernel oil yields.
The oil palm is the most efficient oil-bearing crop in the world. This is due to its abundance yield per ha, ability to produce more than one type of vegetable oil (i.e. palm oil from the mesocarp and palm kernel oil from the kernel), long economic lifespan.
"Malaysian is one the largest producers and exporters of palm oil in the world,accounting for 11% of the world's oils & fats production and 27% of export trade of oils and fats"
Palm trees may grow up to sixty feet and more in height. The trunks of young and mature trees are wrapped in fronds which give them a rather rough appearance. The older trees have smoother trunks apart from the scars left by the fronds which have withered and fallen off.
Oil palm tree will start bearing fruits after 30 months of field planting and will continue to be productive for the next 20 to 30 years; thus ensuring a consistent supply of oils. Each ripe bunch is commonly known as Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB). In Malaysia, the oil palm trees planted are mainly the tenera variety, a hybrid between the dura and pisifera. The teneravariety yields about 4 to 5 tonnes of crude palm oil (CPO) per hectare per year and about 1 tonne of palm kernels. The oil palm is the most efficient oil-bearing crop in the world, requiring only 0.26 hectares of land to produce one tonne of oil while soybean, sunflower and rapeseed require 2.22, 2 and 1.52 hectares, respectively, to produce the same.