Sustainable Oil Palm Farming / Categories of bunches

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Download: Module 2: Harvesting, Grading, Transport

Bunch category Bunch characteristics Deduction Explanation
Good
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  • Full of fruits
  • Yellow/orange/red colour
  • Several loose fruits
  • Fruits are soft
  • Oil drips out when fruit is cut
  • Undamaged and clean bunch
  • Bunch larger than 3 kg
  • Stalks are less than 2 cm long

No

Optimum oil extraction and quality
Unripe
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  • Fruits mostly black in colour
  • Fruits are hard
  • No loose fruits
  • Inside is yellow
  • No oil comes out when fruits are cut

Yes

Unripe fruit has very little oil
Underripe
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  • Fruits mostly reddish black in colour
  • Hard fruits
  • No loose fruits
  • Yellow inside
  • No oil comes out when a fruit is cut

Yes

Underripe fruit has less oil than ripe fruit
Overripe
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  • Many loose fruits
  • Bright orange-yellow in colour
  • Fruits are soft
  • Oil easily comes dripping out

Yes

Many fruits have already fallen out of the bunch. The oil quality in overripe fruits is less good.
Empty
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  • Few or no fruits left on the bunch

Rejected immediately

Little or no oil
Small
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  • Bunch weighs less than 3 kg
  • Usually from very young palms

Yes

Small bunches from young palms have little oil
Damaged
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  • Damaged by rats or other pests
  • Damaged during harvesting or in transport

Yes

Damaged fruit contains less oil
Long stalk
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  • Bunch stalk is more than 2 cm long

Yes

Stalks add weight without oil and suck up oil during processing

Acknowledgements

The material from Categories of bunches is sourced from Smallholder Oil Palm Handbook and put together by Lotte Suzanne Woittiez (Wageningen Universit) and Haryono Sadikin, Sri Turhina, Hidayat Dani, Tri Purba Dukan, and Hans Smit (SNV) in August 2016. See Module 2: Harvesting, Grading, Transport for more information.

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