Papua New Guinea’s climate and fertile soils provides the ideal conditions for the oil palm. Annual yields in the plantations continuously achieve in excess of 7 tonnes of oil and kernel (total palm products) per hectare. Dami elite progenies now produced over 10 tonnes of total palm products per hectare. For seed production, the high productivity of individual seed palms allows Dami to concentrate seed production on only the very best palms. Unlike many seed producers Dami select less than 15% of the palms planted in their seed gardens as parents, ensuring the elite nature of Dami material is never compromised.
World-renowned Dami seeds
Throughout the world, Dami is now renowned as a leader in the production of high-grade oil palm planting material, thanks to the following proven characteristics of its seeds and planting material:
• High yields of fresh fruit bunches (FFB): Over 26t FFB/ha/year, with yields of 30 to 35t FFB/ha commonly achieved in favourable environments.
• Very early yields. Dami material is renowned for its precocity with commercial harvesting commencing 24 months after field planting. Yields above 10t FFB/ha are obtained during the first year of harvest, with up to 15t-20t FFB/ha commonly achieved at plantation levels in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The excellent precocity of the palms remains an important breeding objective to ensure early cash flow returns to the industry and small holders.
• Exceptional extraction rates. Reaching over 24% CPO at the mills with kernel extraction rates of 6%. The best progenies now reproduced on large scale at the seed production unit have given over 39% oil and kernel extraction rates in the latest Dami trials, based on laboratory extraction procedures. The breeding program aims to achieve high yields of palm products per hectare, preferably through exceptional extraction rates, as these yields are more stable across years and environments and can be obtained at lower plantation,transport and milling costs. High mesocarp content and thin shells characterize Dami fruits. Their larger size also facilitates loose fruit collection in the plantation.
• Best yields to total palm products. Over the last 10 years, New Britain Palm Oil plantations produced on average 7 tonnes of palms product yields per hectare. In a latest set of international trials, the average Oil and kernel yields at various sites ranged between 6 – 8.3 tons per hectare. As shown in Fig. 4, large differences were also found between lower and higher yielding progenies at each location, with the best progenies at each site performing around 13-27% above trial mean. These progenies are now reproduced on large scale at the seed production unit.
•No dura contamination. Rigorous quality control during the process of controlled pollination leads to virtually no dura contamination (< 0.1%). This is constantly field proven from extensive plantation "type testing" and results from monthly blank pollination controls.
• Seed free of potential disease. The absence of any significant oil palm diseases on the island of New Britain enables Dami to guarantee the seed 100% disease free.
Ensuring continuous progress.
Dami seeds are the result of an intensive and extensive oil palm breeding programme. Based on extensive germplasm collections obtained from breeding programmes in Malaysia, Cameroon, Congo and Ghana. The current seed production multiplies elite progenies combining Deli mother palms with pollen from Avros pisifera selections. These selections have continuously out-performed other origins in large-scale progeny trials covering over 1000 hectares. Other promising origins are also being multiplied and introduced into the Deli and Avros populations to widen their genetic base and ensure long-term future progress.
To support its breeding programme, Dami is also pursuing long-term R&D programs, including tissue culture and molecular markers research.
The first purpose-build tissue culture laboratory in Papua New Guinea was established at Dami in 1997 to allow the vegetative multiplication of the best elite palms identified in the breeding program. The first oil palm clones produced in the laboratory were planted in the field in May 2001. At the beginning of 2004, a total of 36 elite dura and 1 pisifera clone have been field planted.
Other biotechnology research programs are also currently underway. Genetic fingerprinting applications are used to confirm the parentage of selected palms, allowing the breeding programme to progress with confidence. In addition molecular markers to assist in the selection of individual palms are developed in collaboration with the University of Cambridge in UK. The production of double-haploid palms is also being investigated in collaboration with the University of Queensland in Australia.