A study of the influence of genetic, agronomic and environmental factors on the growth, flowering and bunch production of the oil palm on the west coast of West Malaysia
A comprehensive morphological description of the oil palm at nine different ages was carried out. Studies of growth and development, including dry matter production, mineral and carbohydrate nutrition, were done for the age period 2-28 years. The yield and male and female flowering of the palm were examined in detail and methods of yield prediction proposed. Two "model palms" were constructed and fitted to each of 500 actual palms and the best model accepted was considered to reflect the behaviour of a palm growing in a constant environment. A full investigation of the effects of genetic, agronomic and. environmental factors on palm growth, flowering and yield was made using data from progeny, agronomic trials and rainfall records. A multiple regression equation was set up to determine how much of the variability in yield could be accounted for by preceding rainfall at various stages of development of the inflorescence and fruit bunch. The inter-relationships between the botanical components of yield were examined using multiple regression equations. The results of the investigations in the thesis were interpreted and discussed in terms of maximum efficiency of utilisation of solar energy. The literature was reviewed, the main research problems of the oil palm discussed and possibilities for future yield improvement suggested. The future of the oil palm in Malaysia was considered.