PERFORMANCE OF STRESS-TOLERANT VARIETIES IN UGANDA AND ZAMBIA

The good performance of stress-tolerant oil palm varieties in the Ugandan highlands (1,200 masl and 2o south of Ecuador) and Zambia (1,200 masl and 13o south of Ecuador) has been truly surprising.

In Zambia, the plantations are still very young and some are located in poorly drained areas, despite the very coarse-textured soils (loamy sand). Among several materials planted, Tanzania x Ekona and Bamenda x Ekona varieties stand out for their precocity. Between June and September, temperatures are well below what is considered adequate for traditional oil palm varieties (below 10o C at night) and this causes an evident delay in the growth of palms during this early stage of their lives.

The region of Uganda where the plantations are located has a bimodal rainy season with temperatures that often fall to 16o C or less, particularly during the night and early morning. Here, all planted varieties are producing reasonably well; but the performance of Deli x Ghana is outstanding. In the plots planted in 2007, most of the palms have a high bunch loads, with no apparent signs of a future change in the sex ratio. The expectations are to obtain a production of 22-25 tons of bunches per hectare for 2011, which was an unimaginable goal just a few years ago.

These encouraging results are motivating several companies and state organizations to expand their plantations or develop new projects in the highlands of these two countries and other countries such as Ethiopia and Angola.

 

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Planta of the Tanzania x Ekona variety planted in early December 2010, Zambia             

Bamenda x Ekona planted in early December 2010, Zambia    

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Bamenda x Ekona planted in early December 2010 with inflorescences in 2011

Mucuna used as ground cover, Zampalm, Zambia     

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Compacta x Ghana planted in december 2010, Uganda.                                                             

Deli x Ghana planted in 2007, showing an excellent bunch load in 2011, Uganda