Relationship between oil content and fruit surface color in oil palm (Elaeis guineensis Jacq.)

S. K. Balasundram, P. C. Robert, D. J. Mulla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This study was aimed at investigating the relationship between oil content in oil palm fruit and its surface color distribution. A total of 80 fruit samples were randomly collected from the field; each sample consisted of two individual fruits. Fruit samples were photographed digitally under room temperature and controlled lighting and then subjected to total oil analysis using soxhlet extraction techniques. The digital images were first rectified using Adobe Photoshop®. Rectified images were clustered and subjected to unsupervised classification using MultiSpec Application.® Quantification of surface color distribution was performed in Arc View®. Relationship between oil content and color distribution was determined using multiple linear regression. Results showed that total oil content ranged between 35.2 and 86.4%. Significant correlation was found between total oil and all color components, with black yielding the strongest correlation (r = -0.85), followed by red (r = 0.81), orange (r = 0.62) and yellow (r = 0.48). The relationship between total oil content and color components was best explained with the following regression models: (1) %Total oil = 88.08-0.52 (%Black)+1.30 log (%Yellow), and (2) %Total oil = 36.84+0.63 (%Red)+ 1.52 log (%Yellow). Both these models explained 80-81% of the variation in fruit color with 76-78% accuracy. When validated on a separate data set, these models showed 55-56% accuracy. The benefit of harvesting oil palm fruits based on the relationship between surface color distribution and total oil was estimated as USD 0.15 per tree per year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-308
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Plant Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010


  • FFB harvesting
  • Fruit ripeness
  • Image processing
  • Oil palm
  • Surface color


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