Oil palm varieties adapted to adverse conditions.

The rapid expansion of oil palm cultivation in recent years has caused some plantations to be established in areas that are clearly marginal for most commercial varieties. Poor agronomic management combined with stress-causing agents, such as water deficit, excess rainfall and low solar radiation, have led to poor yields and the presence of several phytosanitary problems. Part of the solution to this problem could be found in the development of new varieties better adapted to those stress-causing factors. Yield potential could be partly compromised, but such varieties would easily out-yield traditional varieties that despite their higher yield potential would not be able to express it when planted under marginal conditions.

ASD has an extensive collection of genetic resources, some obtained from harsh environments, which allows revision of particular combinations seeking stress-tolerant varieties. Some of these introductions came from highlands and other cool and dry areas in Zambia, Uganda, Cameroon, Tanzania, Malawi and Sierra Leone. In addition to the samples with origins in the species Elaeis guineensis, there are several sources of E. oleifera (Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador) that were used to create OxG hybrids (E. oleifera x E. guineensis). The aim of this breeding effort is to eventually produce commercial materials to be used beyond the normal geographical boundaries traditionally used in oil palm cultivation. The work includes improving agronomic and bunch characteristics by using compact progenitors in the program, which would permit a better use of land with rustic varieties that have shorter leaves and can be planted at higher densities.

amancio peraltaInternational Oil Palm Fair in Santo Domingo de los Tsachilas in Ecuador. April 2010. ASD representatives at the "Stand".

Amancio Alvarado and Francisco Peralta