Pepper in Teak Plantations

Hi, Is it possible to grow pepper under teak trees. The canopy provides good shade cover. We are in Chennai and hence coastal weather.
Is it suitable to grow pepper and nutmeg?
Would appreciate to have your views

Hello xisfan,

I guess teak may not be a preferred option (at least in Kerala). In Kerala teak grows very fast and it losses the outer skin almost every year for few years till it gets matured. Once it is huge and matured the outer part of the bark become sort of hard. Till that time pepper not be able to grip on. But you can always tie the vine on the tree.

Not sure if pepper will give you good production. Pepper needs lot of rain. that to in June when the flowers have bloom. As pollination happens through rain drops.

Check locally if any one has tried pepper.

Can pepper be planted under direct sun? I was thinking of having pendal(like grapes) system for pepper this is just ease harvesting. Is this good idea?


Pepper needs cool climate or moisture, at least initially it is very important for 2-3 years. In Kerala people water it almost daily initially when planted for 2 years. I lost some vine because of negligence. If you can water it once in 2 days it should be fine. Mulching and coir beds can help to keep it cool for a week. Its should work.

You cannot plant them in water logged soil as well. Soil needs to drain well. It just needs good organic matter in the soil no fertilizers. Cow dung gives good results(At least in Kerala).

It is very important to let pepper grow vertical and not horizontal.
This is because rain drops get the pollen from the top pepper spikes(flowers) till the bottom pepper spikes. Only then good pollination happens(Hope I am clear here).

Also pepper tends to climb much faster on rough barks than on smoother ones. On poles and pendal it may not be able to grip on. and pollination will prove difficult.

Dear Anoopji

what about Mahagony with proper pruning. I felt this tree grow fast, have good grip for vine and its green leave can be used for mulching also and this tree can fetch good commercial value too. but when pepper planted, due to vide spread roots of Mahagony we may need to add more soil to pepper roots.  I have seen people from our are used jack fruit trees for pepper. several use for jackfruit, leave can be used for goat farm, wood for value, fruits for consumption or animal feed. + pepper.

for your evaluation pls…


Hello Mathew,

Mahogany is very fast growing tree with good grip on bark. Yes timber is of good value. In Kerala people nowadays harvest it in 15 years, mostly planting on the borders of their farm. However if given a chance it becomes massive in 30 to 50 years. I heard in forest plantation Mahogany which are 50+ years old are not been allowed to harvest. ie, in Kannur (Kottiyoor and kannavam forest)area. (not sure about other parts of kerala).

Mahogany can never be pruned. If done, it will be stunted for ever.
Ideally it is very good option to grow pepper on Mahogany because this tree tend to grow tall in a short span of time and then broadening its base and canopy. Pepper last for 7 to 8 years. However there has be instances when pepper has stayed on for much longer time. Ideal is to keep a new wine ready next to the old one by 6th year and once production drops from the old wine discard it.

I am not saying pepper will not establish or fruit on huge trees with larger canopy. Only issue is production may drop.
Unlike jack fruit trees, mahogany will not have fruits on its bark.

There is a difference in small leaves and larger leaves. In small leaves indirect sunlight may penetrates and in broader leaves light may not penetrate properly.

Also there are many type of pepper varieties which would have adopted locally(sub species). Some grip well on trees with rough bark, however some don’t. There will be some other variations in pepper as well. (nature keeps evolving).
All the hybrid varieties need good sunlight I believe. Thing is when scientist and researchers develop a breed they keep it in lab conditions (controlled environment). So when you get the end product it may not respond as desired.

Even I am playing around with pepper and few other stuff which can be grown under coconut trees and other small and huge trees as inter crop. Production may not be as controlled environment. But you will be diverse. If soil is in good condition anything can be done. Some trees may perish but that will be satisfied by other tree in terms of production.

Hi Anoop,

Sorry for delay in replying.
Thanks for your inputs. The teak trees are 12 years old and the bark doesn’t peal off as much. It is rough.
We should get few showers in early June but July is when we can expect better showers.
I plan to go ahead and try it out. Need to make the acreage under teak more viable.

For those of you who may be considering teak. Let me narrate my side of the story. The plants are 12 years old with dia varying from 9-12". We decided to cut the in between trees to give the others a chance to attain their potential. Now here comes the twist. No dealer in Chennai is willing to buy these teak trees. They say they are getting better quality and similar priced teak from Burma so have no use for our supply.
On top of that you need to get permission from forest dept prior to cutting these trees.
So those of you who are considering teak and other such trees keep in mind, 20-30 years is too far ahead. What globalisation will do we cannot foresee. Please research well before you decide to go in for  such long term plantations.


No issues. all the best.

Just make sure you plant pepper to the north side of the trees(teak trees in your case). This is because during summer months Sun is on the south side and strong sun light will damage the vine. This is very important to keep your vine in good condition.

Hmm. I remember few years back no one was allowed to cut teak and sandalwood, even tough our land is no where close to forest area. Gov officials would seal the trees and number them. But I don’t see any sort of activity nowadays. May be all the good trees are exhausted.

Just for knowledge. Teak is said to have completed its lifespan after 80 years. During olden times only 80+ year old teak trees were harvest for temple and old home construction after vriksha puja. Jack-fruit was 100 years.

Hi Anoop,

Thank you for the valuable suggestions. Will take care to grow on the north side.
Any idea where I can get Panniyur grafts from?
Teak - 80 + years, guess that is a next generation plantation.


You are welcome.

Also a point I forgot to mention is teak sheds its leaf in summer. You will have to cover pepper with some sort of shading material. Like a basket made of coconut-leaf or some alternate for 1st and 2 year during summer months.

There is so much fight for pepper sapling during June month (thiruvathira Njattuvela).
Agriculture University directly sell to farmers, but agricultural offices put a hold on the process and they acquire all the sapling just when thiruvathira starts.  Most of the sapling is send to agricultural office in every panchayat. Few people have witnessed and experience; some saplings are given to people. Rest major chunk is picked up by big farm owners or nursery people.

Kannur I am aware of 2 university supplying saplings. Also a nursery I am aware which stock pepper.

Is it viable for you to buy it from Kerala? How much saplings do you need?

Hi Anoop,

It is true in summer all the leaves have dropped. Will follow your suggestion. One advantage is the Teak Trees are very close at 8x8’ so there is still sufficient cover but not enough for pepper.
I would need about 250 saplings and not sure how I can procure from Kannur. Trying with TNAU but not the best source I think.
Thanks again for your suggestions