Archives from Yandina Research Center

If the Yandina Research Center have been destroyed, at least 90 % of the coconut palm planted remains alive, and something should be done to recover this rich heritage. Nowadays, making a similar coconut collection by importation from other countries would cost several USD millions.

In Solomon, Rennell was the only island really prospected (around 400 palms in Yandina germplasm collected in 1961, 1965, and 1966, and sent later to many countries). All of the other islands need further surveys prospection, because the germplasm is insufficiently characterized and because, it is threatened by different factors (see rising for atolls, beetle, diseases and globalization).

Extracts from the Annual Report February 1963-August 1964, British Solomon Island Protectorate Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Lever’s Pacific Plantations PTY LTD Join Coconut Research Scheme

Chapter E: introduced varieties

Markham Valley. 50 seedlings from the 64 nuts received in October 1960 were successfully established in Banika Field N°15, adjacent to plots 3 and 4 OF JAS/2 on March 24, 1961. These have grown well and have received annual dressings of nitrogen and potash fertilisers, and in the last two years magnesium and phosphate have also been applied. The leaf production has been recorded annually.
Rotuma. 90 seedlings from the 100 nuts received in November 1960 were planted out just west of plot 3 of JAC/2 on 22nd May 1961, but 24 did not survive. 50 became well established and the remainders are doing poorly due to patches of stony soil in the area where they were planted. These palms have received the same fertilisers as the Markham Valley palms and are recorded in the same way.
Gilbert. 49 nuts were collected near the Government Station on Betio, Tarawa atoll in July 1962) They germinated very slowly indeed, but 36 had reached a stage suitable for planting out in June 1963. These seedlings were planted adjacent to plots 24 and 40, on the western side of the Replanting Cultivation Experiment at Banika. They have grown slowly and have suffered severe leaf damage from a fungal organism, probably a Helminthosporium species. The seedlings have been sprayed regularly each fortnight with a copper fungicide but the spread of the organism has not been fully arrested. The soil where these palms are planted is heavy clay and the lack of vigour of the seedlings probably indicates that they are not adapted to this soil type.
Rangiroa. 95 nuts were received from the IRHO Research Station at Rangiroa in the Tuamotu Archipelago in March 1963. These were open pollinated seed from 15 selected mother palms, which produced nuts of high copra content. These nuts were planted out into Banika Field 10 on October 16, 1963. Each seedling is marked with a dropper bearing the number of the mother palm. These palms have also been attacked by a Helminthosporium fungus, which produces necrotic spots on the leaves. These spots enlarge rapidly and a leaf can be entirely destroyed in a few weeks. Experience with control measures has been similar to that with the Gilbertese seedlings. Once again the soil is heavy clay and it seems that poor palm health is related to adaptation. Seedlings of the Rennell variety planted in an adjacent area, and which are of about the same age, show little or no evidence of fungus attack. 118 nuts from the same mother palms were received in March 1964. They have germinated satisfactorily and are ready for planting out at the time of writings. They will be planted on a sandy coralline soil in the Lever Point area and it is hoped they will do better than those planted on clay soil.
Spicata (Ngohara Tapala). This is the Roviana language name for palms which bear spicata bunches, i.e. bunches, on which the central stem is unbranched and the female flowers are all borne along this one stem. Few male flowers are all borne along this one stem. Few male flowers are present. 5 nuts were collected from such a palm at Munda, in April 1963, and the seedlings planted out on 6th April 1964, on the east side of the Replanting Cultivation Experiment adjacent to plot 17. The germination and early growth was very slow but all five seedlings are now growing well.
Niu Leka. 204 nuts of this variety were received from Fiji in September 1963. They germinated well and 135 were planted in Banika N°. 10, west of the Fiji Hybrid Dwarf palms on 11/6/64. 25 further seedlings were planted adjacent to plots 3 and 5 of JAS/1 in the Loavie New Development area on 11/8/64.
Malayan Dwarf.
(a) 211 nuts of this variety were received from Fiji in September 1963. These and the Niu Leka seed came from Mua estate on Taveuni. Germination of the Malayan Dwarf was very poor indeed and no satisfactory explanation for this can be arrived at. Only a small percentage of those that failed to germinate had begun to do so and subsequently died. 40 % of all the nuts had gone rotten. Since these nuts were harvested from the palms, under the supervision of staff from the Fiji Department of Agriculture, they have left Fiji in good condition. The delay from time of harvesting to arrival in the Solomons was less than a month. Perhaps these buts succumbed to a too high temperature on board ship.
54 Malayan Dwarfs were planted out in Banika N° 10 between lines of Niu Leka Palms and 28 were planted in Loavie New Development adjacent to plots 2 and 4 of JAS/1.
Malayan Dwarfs
(b) Negotiations are in hand at the present time to import 1000 Malayan Dwarf seeds from Malaya itself. These will be received towards the end of 1964 and will consist of 50 % red, 25 % yellow and 25 % green dwarf nuts. The nuts will come by sea being trans-shipped in Sydney.
Malayan Dwarfs
(c) A number of palms that appear to be true Red Malayan Dwarfs have been located in the Solomons. Nuts are being collected from these palms and all which breed true to the red colour, as observed in the nursery, will be planted out for comparison with the imported dwarf material. It is anticipated that Malayan dwarfs will play an important part in the future breeding program to provide improved planting material.

Extracts from the Annual Report August 1964-July 1965, British Solomon Island Protectorate Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Lever’s Pacific Plantations PTY LTD Join Coconut Research Scheme

Page 24:

 In Banika n°10, Niu Leka Green and Malayan Dwarf from Nua Estate, Fiji.

Page 25, Point B: Introduced varieties

Some of the Rotuman palms (see page 25 of the last report) had begun flowering before they were 4 years in the field. None of the Markham Valley palms has flowered yet.
SPICATA Nuts were collected from four palms with the "Spicata" flower character on Rennell Island in October 1964. About 25 palms from these have been established on the east side of plots 17 and 32 of the Replanting Cultivation Experiment at Banika, and in the Genealogical Block 1 on Yandina Estate.
VANIKORO. Some palms on Vanikoro Island, in the Eastern Solomons, bear a large number of small nuts, which are reported to have high copra content for their size. 30 nuts were collected from there in October 1964 and 20 seedlings from these have been established adjacent to plot 16 of the Replanting Cultivation Experiment.
MALAYAN DWARFS. 1. Two shipments of nuts from dwarf palms on Torkington Estate, Sabak Bernam, Malaya, were imported in early 1965. In all, 538 nuts were obtained; these coming from selected high yielding green, yellow and red dwarf palms. The germination from the first group, which took 74 days to reach here from Malaya, has been about 50 %. The second group, which are still germinating, was 47 days on the way, and already over 60 % have germinated. Further shipments of nuts are planned, to bring the total number imported up to 1000. Shipment via Sydney can be made only during the Australian summer.
2. Groves of Malayan dwarf palms from seed imported from Fiji were established on two plantations on San Cristoval Island before the Pacific war. About 200 nuts from these palms were obtained in January 1965. 100 seedlings have now been established inter-planted with some Rennell palms in Banika Field 10, and in the Genealogical Block at Yandina, for observation.
3. There is a small number of young Malayan Dwarf type palms at the Agricultural Training College near Honiara. A group of seedlings has been established in the Genealogical Block from seed of these palms.
4. About 30 old palms bearing small red fruit and with a somewhat dwarfish habit are growing on Faiami Estate in the Russell Islands. A small group of seedlings exhibiting the red colour factor, from nuts of these palms, has also been established in the Genealogical Block.
CEYLON TALLS. Sixty nuts were obtained from Letchemy Estate in Ceylon and these arrived in March 1965. They began germinating in May and at the time of writing; over 80 % have germinated. These will provide a useful link between our work and that of the Ceylon Coconut Research Institute.

Extracts from the Annual Report August 1970-July 1971, British Solomon Island Protectorate Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Lever’s Pacific Plantations PTY LTD Join Coconut Research Scheme

Page 3:

In October 1970, The laboratory of Yandina was destroyed by fire...Duplicates of records have been obtained in part from various sources but detail has been sacrificed... a considerable loss of valuable research materials was inevitably sustained in the fire.

Page 25:

 Crosses Niu Leka x Malayan Dwarf made by Marechal in Fiji in 1926. 315 palms reputed F3 generations were planted in Banika Plot 10 during March 1956. 150 palms were poisoned off and replacement (F4) planted during 1966. F4 was obtained from the 12 highest yielding palms of the original introduction. Used from 1965 to 1971 to produce hybrids with local tall by assisted pollination.

Page 27:

54 palms of Bellona Island planted in Banika 10 in 1957. Are said to be similar to RIT. Planting of Rennell Tall in 1961.
Markham Valley: 50 seedlings from 64 nuts received in October 1960 were planted in Block 15, Banika Estate, during March 1961.
Rotuman: 100 seednuts received in November 1960 and 90 Seedlings planted in Block 15, Banika Estate during May 1961.

Page 19:

Spicata Dwarf Seednuts received in 1968 from New Guinea and planted in 1969 in GB1 (genealogical block 1, Yandina Estate).
Extracts from the Annual Report August 1970-July 1971, British Solomon Island Protectorate Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Lever’s Pacific Plantations PTY LTD Join Coconut Research Scheme

Chapter 8: Seed Supply and Breeding Programme

…. The Lingatu/Ilua area of FMS palms actually contains, on count, FMS/LT hybrids to the extent of 8.1%. There is some evidence and enough to justify the attempt to increase the hybrid proportion, that the FMS/LT hybrid is higher yielding and more precocious than either parent is. (Section 10).
The practice of selecting the 30% largest nuts ensured, to a large extent, that most of the seed parents would be FMS. Because the size of the block (1,146 acres) limits the possible outcrossing with LT, the progenies would, therefore, contain only slightly over the original 8.1% hybrids.
Random-gathered seed from the Lingatu/Ilua area shows, at least, 28.8% hybrid progenies. As the hybrid material is shown to outyield the parent FMS, seed is now being collected on a random basis.
Open pollinated seed are also being collected from an individually recorded experimental block, planted with size unselected seed from Lingatu/Ilua. This block, of course, contains FMS and FMS/LT. Seed are only being collected from what are, visually, pure FMS. As the block is surrounded by LT, the collected seed will contain FMS/FMS, FMS/LT and FMS/hybrid. The hybrid proportion in this seed should increase to 40-45% as opposed to the 8-10% from size-selected seed and 28-30% from size unselected seed from Lingatu/Ilua. It would, of course, be possible to the FMS palms, but this approach is not being used as the palms are in an established experiment, and there is insufficient knowledge of the effects of emasculation on yield. This is being studied. Collection from this source commenced in September 1965, and when the block is in full production, some 32,000-36,000 seed will become available annually.
There is, also, a small block of NL/MD palms. This young block, as it stood, average just on 14 cwt. dry copra in its 8th year. The worst 50% of these palms were poisoned, the best palms being kept for the very long-term programme and progeny testing; 149 very high yielding palms became available as seed parents. These are being emasculated, thus forcing outcrossing with LT and R (a few of which are in the vicinity). This programme was started at the end of June 1965, and the first of this seed has been collected. It has been found, that though one worker could control.
Seed blocks, using yellow MD (Note: corrected manually by de NucĂ© de Lamothe: “No, RED”) as the seed parents are being established under LT, FMS and R. palms. The yellow MD was chosen because a source of supply is available in the protectorate at Kira Kira on San Cristobal, and we had decided not to import from other parts. (Section 5). A colour marker gene is also present, thus enabling the hybrids to be identified in the nursery. The hybrid R.LT would also be available from the first of the seed blocks planted. (See below).
Each of these Blocks is designed to supply the total requirements of the scheme, and when the best cross, for local conditions, has been found, the remaining blocks will be returned to Estate production. In effect, they will be considered as part of the LPPPL replanting programme.
There was insufficient Rennell Talls at Yandina for the establishment of the R/MD seed block. Consequently, 6,000 seed were obtained directly from Rennell Island at the end of April 1965. This R/MD block cuts back from the seashore into an old stand of LT. A band of, at least, 5 rows wide of R has been planted around the 90 acre (approx.) block, and in most places, is much wider where extra palms have been planted to fit in with roads, cattle fences etc.... A total of 3,425 R palms were planted.
The first consignment of yellow MD was received at the end of November 1965, with a second in February 1966.

Extracts from the Review of the breeding programme 1971-1974, British Solomon Island Protectorate Department of Agriculture in collaboration with Lever’s Pacific Plantations PTY LTD Join Coconut Research Scheme

Chapter F p 26: MALAYAN DWARF

Both seednuts and pollen of CV MD have been introduced from time to time. All three colour forms, viz. red (nana form regia), yellow (nana form eburnea) and green (nana form pumila). (Manthriratna 1973), are represented.
The first seednuts (RMD) were introduced before the Pacific War and planted at Kira Kira, San Cristobal Island (KK). No details of the block are available but presumably they were introduced with a view to improving commercial copra production.
A second group was found growing at Kukum (K) on Guadalcanal Island. Again, virtually nothing is known about these palms. Kukum was, however, an agricultural centre and it is possible that the seednuts were collected from Kira Kira and planted for observation.
In 1964 and 1965, RMD, GMD and YMD seednuts were imported from Malaya. The mother palms were selected on Torkington Estate. In 1965 a consignment of RMD was received from Fiji (JCRS 1967-8).
Seednuts from a spicata form of RMD were imported from Papua New Guinea in 1969 (JCRS 1969).
Spicata form: In 1969, 82 spicata dwarfs were imported from Papua New Guinea (JCRS 1969). In a later list these are separated into spicata dwarfs and spicata hybrids, with 49 of the former and 23 of the latter having been planted (M.J. Todd unpublished report 1971..  No further information is available on the hybrids.
In 1974, 33 of the 34 survivors were showing spicata form.
Chapter F p 29: MARKHAM VALLEY
Sixty-four seednuts of CV MV were imported from Papua New Guinea in November 1960.
Chapter G p 30: ROTUMAN
One hundred Rotuman seednuts were imported from IRHO in November 1960
Seednuts were collected from Tall palms growing on Tarawa atoll (Gilbert and Ellice Islands) in 1963.
Two consignments of RAN seednuts were received from the IRHO Research Station Rangiroa. They were the open pollinated seed of 15 selected palms.
Ninety-five nuts were imported in 1963 and 118 in 1964. Two populations were established. (JCRS 1964/5).
In 1963 seednuts of this Fiji dwarf palm were received from Nua Estate (Fiji). Over 200 seednuts were imported and from these 135 palms were established in Block B10 and 23 near experiment JAS1. The latter group has not been recorded.
Two hundred and thirty seednuts were imported from Christmas Island (Line Islands group) in 1965.
Sixty seednuts of CV C were received from Letchemy Estate Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1964. Fifty-three seedlings were established in three small plots.
From Joint Coconut Research Scheme, review of breeding programme 1971-1974.
Spicata Form: In 1964 5 palms were established in B9 (Banika Estate) from local tall found at Munda in the western Solomons. By 1974 1 palm died and 3 were showing spicata habit.
Page 21: The discovery of the large fruited Rennell cultivar was probably the most significant in the plant breeding work at Yandina. The first palms of this type were taken to Yandina from Bellona in 1957. There is no evidence that palms grown from seednuts from Bellona differ significantly from those grown from seednuts from Rennell Island. True Rennell are however regarded as that growing inland on Rennell island.
True Rennell were introduced and planted in B10 (207 palms planted 1961, 180 remaining in 1974., and Lever Point (1965 and 1966, 263 palms planted and alive in 1974. and also in GB1 (158 palms planted in 1968). There are also planted in variety trials JAS1, JRS4 and JRS6.
Page 22: Spicata form: 17 palms established in B9 during 1964, from Spicata Rennell Palms (??????). In 1974 6 shows the spicata habit. 26 other palms established in GB1 in 1965, 5 remaining showing spicata habit in 1974.
Vanikoro: 30 nuts collected from the island in October 1964. 20 palms planted in B9, 17 alive in 1974.
Samoan Tall and FMS (Federated Malayan States) said to be introduced before the war. 95 FMS planted in 1965 in LP, 71 in 1967 in GB1, 1536 in 1961 in JAS2.
From AA list of the experiments conducted in Russell Islands, British Solomon Island Protectorate, by what is now the Joint Coconut research Scheme In: Coconut Research in the South Pacific Region, 1960-1965, Technical information Paper n°4.
- There is FMS (Federated Malayan States Tall) planted in 1924 at 69 per acre in Lingatu block 4, Russell Islands.
Faiami estate: Solomon Island Tall planted about 1915 at 69 per acre.