Eleven oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.) germplasm collections from Nigeria, Cameroon, Zaire (now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Tanzania, Madagascar, Angola, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ghana were evaluated at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) for bunch index (BI), i.e. the ratio of bunch dry matter to total dry matter production. Besides fresh fruit bunch (FFB), yield estimation of BI requires the measurement of trunk height, trunk diameter, rate of frond production and petiole cross-section. Four consecutive years of FFB yield was used to calculate BI. The Tanzanian germplasm showed the highest BI and was significantly different from other germplasm for both dura (BI = 0.53) and teneras (BI = 0.54) accessions. High variation for BI among duras was noted in the Madagascar germplasm (CV = 70.69%), while among teneras high variation was observed in Guinea germplasm (CV = 43.34%). Broad-sense heritability estimate of BI for Sierra Leone was highest for dura (h2B = 75.27%) while that of Zaire was highest for tenera (h2B = 66.17%). Phenotypic correlations were high and positive between BI and FFB yield components. Therefore, increasing BI is likely to increase FFB yield. High BI palms (more than 0.6) would be introgressed into advanced breeding populations to generate high yielding planting materials. Additionally, tenera palms with high BI may also be multiplied by cloning.
* Malaysian Palm Oil Board, 6 Persiaran Institusi, Bandar Baru Bangi, 43000 Kajang, Selangor, Malaysia. E-mail: email@example.com
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