05 January 2006

Description: Mawa or PB121 hybrid

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From the book:
Coconut. A guide to traditional and improved varieties.
By R. Bourdeix, J.L. Konan and Y.P. N’Cho

Editions Diversiflora, MontpellierSize: 21 x 27 cm - 104 pages

Hybrid PB 121 or Mawa

The coconut hybrid PB 121 results from a cross between the Malayan Yellow Dwarf, used as the female parent, and the West African Tall. The name Mawa can be found in English-speaking countries, “Ma” standing for Malayan and “wa” for West African. This hybrid was created in Côte d'Ivoire in 1962 and has become the most widely used improved variety in the world. By 1985, it was already being grown in more than forty countries.
The fruits, which are not very large, weigh from 900 to 1,200 grams (on average 990 grams). The inner nut weighs from 600 to 750 grams and contains an oil-rich meat varying in weight from 320 to 380 grams. In estates, it is rare for copra weights (artificially dried kernel) to exceed 200 grams per fruit; in the research centres, they vary from 190 grams to 240 grams. The copra has a high oil content of around 65%.
PB 121 serves as a reference control in numerous trials. Under suitable growing conditions, it usually starts bearing 4 years after planting, and produces 80 to 220 fruits before the end of the 6th year.
Mature palms may produce from 3.5 to 4.5 tons of copra per hectare per year, i.e. 130 to 170 nuts per palm at a density of 160 palms per hectare.
In Côte d'Ivoire, the large estates belonging to the former Palmindustrie company make it possible to compare 4 000 hectares of West African Tall palms with 12 500 hectares of coconut hybrids (90% PB 121) spread throughout the country on highly variable soils. From 1985 to 1990, the hybrids produced 2.4 tons of copra per hectare, as compared to only 1.5 tons for the West African Tall variety.
PB 121 adapts to a wide spectrum of situations, notably with good tolerance to water stress. Yet the introduction of PB 121 in some regions of Indonesia and the Philippines ended in failure: a fungus of the genus Phytophthora killed a substantial number of palms in the plantations, and farmers judged the nuts to be too small. In Indonesia and the Comoro Islands, PB 121 remains greatly appreciated for the production of Toddy, coconut palm sap obtained by binding and tapping the inflorescence.
Up to 1995, the PB 121 distributed from Côte d'Ivoire was derived from two populations: around a hundred West African Tall male parents were used in a mixture to pollinate several thousands of Yellow Dwarf female parents. It was therefore impossible precisely to determine the “father” of each hybrid, since an entire population had been used as the male. However, not all the palms in a population are genetically similar and their progeny does not have the same value. Half-sib families, each made up of a single West African Tall male and several Malayan Yellow Dwarf females, were compared with a view to improving the PB 121 hybrid.
The results of those experiments were highly encouraging, with the best half-sib families producing well over average yields. In addition, some males transmitted tolerance of certain diseases to their progenies, such as nut-fall caused by Phytophthora.The “Marc Delorme” Centre currently distributes an “improved” PB 121 that is 15 to 20% more productive than the classic PB 121 hybrid. Yields exceeding 5.5 tons of copra per hectare have been reached in the research centres, but this “second generation” hybrid is expected to achieve 3.5 tons of copra per hectare on average in Ivorian farms.