Planting techniques: traditional, classical and organic

By R. Bourdeix, 2018.

About the number of seedlings needed according to varietal types, see the section on How many seednuts to plant one hectare?

Traditional methods
Here under is a short movie about planting technique in Tarawa Atoll, Kiribati islands.

Classical methods: bare-foot seedlings and polybags
The best time to transplant seedlings is at the onset of the rainy season. Hence, timing of the nursery should be practised in accordance with the seasonal changes. Prior to digging of holes, planting guides are put in place by using two pegs placed at equal distances from the stake. This indicates the centre of the hole where the sprout of the seedling to be planted later on will have to be aligned. It must be noted that by using a stick marked at the centre, and using the planting guides at planting time, the relocation of the stake in the hole can be easily done. Holes should be dug at 50 x 50 x 50 cm size. This operation commences as early as 2 months before planting to allow for weathering of the soil on the sides and bottom of the holes. Weathering is encourage to promote early root‑soil contact.

Field nursery seedlings without polybags, called "bare foot" should be planted immediately or at the latest 3 days after removal from the nursery to reduce mortality. Before transplanting, each hole should be applied with fertilizers mixed with soil.
For polybagged seedlings, remove the polybag first, then transplant the seedling. The hole should be covered with loose topsoil, slightly firmed at the base of the crown. The top of the nut must be about 5‑8 cm below the ground level. Deep planting might suffocate the bud while shallow planting might cause the planting material to bend, sway or lean during heavy rains and windy days. A slight depression towards the base of the crown must be provided to trap rainwater.

Organic methods
For planting bare-foot seedlings, alternatively or in addition, a small amount of organic matter, e.g. seaweeds, husks or any other compost materials, can be placed at the bottom of the hole and covered with soil leaving about one‑third free for the seedling nut to 'sit'. In Kiribati, farmers mix dried leaves and wood pieces with some green leaves. This method of mixing green and dry is also sometimes used for preparing mulching.
In atolls and coral soils, three or four old cans (in iron, not in aluminium) are often added in the planting hole to provide the coconut palm with iron  and some other trace elements that are missing in the soil. If the soil is particularly poor, and in order to transfer some beneficial micro organisms, it could be useful to take some soil in a place where coconut palms are growing very well, and to add about 500 g of this soil in the planting hole. 
For preparing seednuts in polybags, it is proposed to add into the bag with two coconut husks that are rich in potassium, have the capacity of retaining moisture and (we think) may contain some beneficial micro-organisms. Use preferably old coconut husks; add first about 10 cm of soil in the bag and place the husks on the sides or circumferences of the bag. This method will also have the advantage of reducing the weight of the bagged seedling and facilitate its transportation. If available, some charcoal or bio-char may also be added at the bottom of the bag.

Santos, G. A., Batugal, P. A., Othman, A., Baudouin, L., & Labouisse, J. P. (1996). Stantech manualManual on standardized research techniques in coconut breeding.