Increasing sap yield of nipa palms

Carlos Andam By Carlos Andam, 6th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Gardening>Planting & Growing

The volume of nipa palm sap which can be served as fresh juice drink, can be processed into wine or alcohol or even sugar and collected from the fruit stalk can be increased tremendously with this new technique.

Indigenous products from nipa

Considered as mangrove’s counterpart, nipa or sasa (Nipa fruticans) is an old crop wherein many old folks in different parts of the globe had developed various indigenous technologies for producing processed products essential to the economic life especially to people leaving near coastal areas.
For years, the nipa palm has been associated with two local drinks otherwise known as “tuba” and “lambanog” among the Filipinos. Probably, it is far from the minds of many people that this palm could be developed into many other products of economic or industrial values. Application of Indigenous technologies continue to produce products such as mats, bags, hats or raincoats, brooms, baskets and other tying materials which are economically important in the everyday living of many Filipinos.

Sap from the fruit stalk

What is notable is the fact that its sap that can be tapped from the peduncle or stalk of its fruit bunch for fresh juice drink in the early morning or process into vinegar, wine or sugar, is its potential for alcohol production for energy or other uses. The sap, according to Lucio Quimbo who studied nipa sap tapping and reported his findings in 1989, is the cheapest known source of alcohol and with proper distillation process, the alcohol from the crop is a potential energy source. Prof. Quimbo is a retiree at the College of Forestry of the University of the Philippines at Los Baños.

The new tapping system

Quimbo noted that the traditional way of tapping the sap gives only an average yield of 57,750 liters per hectare of 625 fruiting nipa palms for sap harvesting. From the same number of palms per hectare and following his technology yields an average of 101,278.5 liters or 42.98% increase.
His technology entails application of a series of mechanical treatments to the fruiting nipa peduncles using the clenched fists as pressure applicator. “The application of pressure loosens the silica and crystal-like deposits in the tracheal elements of the peduncle, thus enhancing free sap flow”. His study showed that treatment could be reduced from 94 days to 43 days with total sap yield still higher on a per plant basis than the traditional way. With this reduced treatment period, sap collection according to Quimbo increased from 60 days to 111 days.
Ordinarily, nipa bears fruit in 3 – 4 years from planting but he recommends that tapping should start when the palms are already 5 years old in order to get higher sap yield. On palms with two fruit stalk or peduncle, tapping must be done only on the more healthy stalks. Cutting of leaves should also be avoided. Those intended for shingle production should therefore be avoided for sap production.
To check the readiness of palms for tapping, remove a nut from the fruit head to test the meat. Quimbo revealed that when the meat inside the nut has just formed and is still very soft (mucus-like) and 1/5 of the inner portion is still occupied by water, the peduncle is ready for tapping treatment.
With a sharp knife, remove the bracts that cover the peduncle and in doing, avoid bruising or hurting the peduncle. Immediately cover the outer part of the exposed peduncle with mud piles or black mud to prevent it from drying. Two days after bract removal, the tapping treatments can be started.
“Using the lower part of the clenched fists, apply regulated amount of pressure on all parts of the exposed nipa peduncle. Gradually tap all the outer parts of the peduncle making sure that all parts are given the same amount of pressure”.
“When applying pressure, be careful not to damage the base of the peduncle. To prevent the fruit head from swinging, hold the head in place either by clipping the head between the knees or by holding it with the left hand, while the right fist makes the complete treatment of each portion of the peduncle”.
Quimbo’s technology recommends the following schedule for the tapping treatments: once during the first week, once every 4 days for the next 12 days; and once every other day for the last 12 days. The duration of the tapping treatment schedule is 43 days.
“Remove the mud that covers the peduncle every time the peduncle has been tapped on a scheduled day. However, cover the peduncle again with fine mud after every tapping treatment”.
In sap collection, the peduncle is cut across its top just below the fruit head with a sharp knife immediately after completing the treatment. Then insert the cut-end into the hole of a previously prepared bamboo tube called tukil for sap collection. This tukil should be installed in a vertical or slanting position such that the sap will not spill. The collected sap in the tukil is gathered every morning and may be transferred in a larger plastic containers like an 18-liter capacity.
The tukil is very important in sap collection and it can be prepared out of bamboo pole by cutting it, with 2 – 3 internodes per piece of tukil. Approximately, this may contained more than 2 liters of the sap. A circular hole is made near the top portion of the bamboo tube. The circumference of the hole is slightly larger than the circumference of the peduncle. Then the open upper part of the bamboo tube is covered with ordinary plastic bag in order to minimize evaporation and prevent the entry of water especially during the rainy days.
A fresh cut is made into the peduncles everyday after which immediately install the collecting tubes into its original position. This process is continued until the peduncle is too short for the bamboo tubes or when there is no more sap to flow. When the plastic containers are filled with sap, they are ready for transport to a market or to a processing plant where it can be processed into vinegar, local wine or lambanog or sugar. Nipa sap is popularly processed into vinegar or lambanog in the Philippines.

Sugar from sap and jam

Sugar making from the sap, according to an internet source, is an interesting cottage industry in Dawel, Indonesia. The process entails first of all collection of the sap, a system similarly practiced in the Philippines. That is, the ripe nipa palm fruits are cut off and bamboo containers are hung under their stalks the whole night to gather the sap or juice oozing from the cut stalk of the fruit bunch.
Early in the following morning, the bamboo containers full of juice are collected. The nipa palm juice is filtered and then boiled in the large pans. When it is boiled, the float is removed to make the juice cleaner. After about three hours of boiling, the saturated juice is allowed to cool, and thus nipa palm sugar is obtained.
After pouring the sap from the bamboo containers, they are cleaned and fumigated by smoke for use in next day's palm juice collection. The above process is repeated everyday.
The nipa palm sugar is very sweet and therefore, it is very useful in making various kinds of local snacks in Dawel, Indonesia. The nipa palm juice is also a sweet drink in the morning, but in the late afternoon, it ferments into bitter juice, which is an intoxicant. The bitter nipa palm juice has the same potency as alcohol. It is stronger than the bitter toddy juice. Nipa palm juice is also turned into a local drink which they call in dawel "Pa Ohn Ye" after two days storage in pots. It is also used as vinegar in Dawel.
Nipa palm blossom jam is also obtained when nipa palm blossoms are plucked and cooked with nipa palm sugar. The jam is served with green tea as a dessert.


Alcohol, Lambanog, Local Wine, Nipa, Nipa Fruticans, Nipa Juice, Nipa Palm Sugar, Nipa Sap, Tuba

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author avatar Carlos Andam
Agriculturist, researcher, professor and a freelance science feature writer.

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author avatar Lien Son
6th Mar 2018 (#)

Dir Sir.
Thank you so much for your sharing. I've read through your document about How to increase sap yield of nipa palms. But i am a little confused "...Quimbo’s technology recommends the following schedule for the tapping treatments: once during the first week, once every 4 days for the next 12 days; and once every other day for the last 12 days. The duration of the tapping treatment schedule is 43 days...". Do you mean that i should tap once in the first 7 days, and then i'll tap 4 times in the next 12 days (4 day/times), and then i do nothing in the next 12 days, and in the last 12 days i should tap every day. (7 + 12 + 12(do nothing) + 12 = 43).
Thank you so much
God bless you!

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