Oil palm is an important crop for global vegetable oil production, and is widely grown in the humid tropical regions of Southeast Asia. Projected future climate change may well threaten palm oil production. However, oil palm plantations currently produce large amounts of unutilised biological waste. Oil palm stems – which comprise two-thirds of the waste - are especially relevant because they can contain high levels of non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) that can serve as feedstock for biorefineries. The NSC in stem are also considered a potent buffer to source-sink imbalances. In the present study, we monitored stem NSC levels and female reproductive growth. We then applied convergent cross mapping (CCM) to assess the causal relationship between the time-series. Mutual causal relationships between female reproductive growth and the stem NSC were detected, with the exception of a relationship between female reproductive organ growth and starch levels. The NSC levels were also influenced by long-term cumulative temperature, with the relationship showing a seven-month time lag. The dynamic between NSC levels and long-term cumulative rainfall showed a shorter time lag. The lower temperatures and higher cumulative rainfall observed from October to December identify this as a period with maximum stem NSC stocks.
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