Monday, 11 April 2016

Natural rubber economy in Northeast India


The rubber is a flexible industrial raw material for many rubber based industries. There are more than 50,000 products make from rubber. We use varieties of rubber products in every steps of our daily life. Counting from Hawai chapel, boots, shoe, tube-tyre, surgical gloves, door mate, swing gums, wire, vehicles parts etc numerous rubber products or parts we used are the source of rubber. But you may think that from where this significant raw material is obtained? There are two sources of rubber, one extracted from petroleum, called synthetic rubber and another from tree Hevea brasiliensis, called natural rubber. Varieties of clone derived from Hevea are used for rubber cultivation. So rubber can also be obtained from tree. But it was remain mystery till late 19th century, natural rubber was entirely collected from wild forests, especially in South and Central America. It was introduced to tropical Asia and Africa by the efforts of the British Government during the later part of 19th century. The tree is now grown in the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and South America.
Although rubber is widely used as raw materials in rubber base industries, but there are nine countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Cambodia, can produce natural rubber in the world. India is also one of among them and climbed into sixth position in the world.  India have 7, 96,000 ha. rubber area till the year 2014-15. Average yield per hector was 1,576 kg/annum in India and produced 7, 04,500 tones from its 4, 47,000 ha. matured (productive) rubber area in the year 2014-15. There are only few states contain suitable land for rubber cultivation in India. Apart from few south Indian states, all the states of northeast India except Sikkim, possessed more or less suitable land for rubber cultivation. In south India, Kerala, some parts of Tamilnadu, and some area of Odisha, Andaman Nicombar and Goa suitable for rubber cultivation. As per the official record of Rubber Board India, there is about 4.5 lakh hector area potential for rubber cultivation in northeast India. Assam has two lakh hector suitable land for natural rubber cultivation. As per record, about 50000 ha. land already covered by natural rubber in Assam and becomes third largest rubber planted state in India. Tripura contain one lakh ha. land suitable for rubber cultivcation and about 75,000 ha. area already planted and becomes second largest natural rubber planting states in India. It is very miraculous that commercial use of rubber in India was started in Assam in 1798. Long before the introduction of the Para rubber in India and other South East Asian Countries, indigenous rubber yielding trees, Assam rubber were tapped on a commercial scale in Assam. But the organized attempts of rubber planting were initiated by government agencies during the 1960 in some northeast states.  The first large scale rubber planting started by Tripura government in 1963. The Soil Conservation Department of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Assam also started planting during the same period. A public sector undertaking, Tripura Forest Development and Plantation Corporation Ltd. was formed in 1976. The Soil Conservation and Forest Department in other states also took up rubber planting during that period.
Till the year 2013-14 about 1.5 lakh ha. area planted by natural rubber in northeast India. Assam has planted about 48,000 ha.; Tripura 75,000 ha.;  Meghalaya 14,000 ha., Mizoram 2,000 ha.; Arunachal Pradesh 4,500 ha.; Nagaland 12,000 ha. and Manipur 5,000 ha. till the year 2014-15. The annual production of natural rubber in northeast India was 63,690 tonnes in 2013-14 and approximate value of earning was Rs. 650 crore. There are about 2 lakh small holdings with an average 0.80 ha. land of rubber plantation and more than one lakh manpower has been engaged in the natural rubber plantation sector in the region. There are about three lakh ha. potential land yet to be planted and having immense scope to generate 02 lakh employment opportunities and about Rs. 4,500 crore annual income in a year from natural rubber plantation in northeast India in coming years.
Production of natural rubber in northeast states is increased along with the increase of extension of rubber cultivation. There was total 38,600 tonnes rubber produced in 2009-10 and it grows up to 64,000 tonnes in 2013-14. Tripura has alone produced 25080 tonnes in 2009-10 and it’s reached 39,000 tonnes in 2013-14. The production of natural rubber was 7,071 tonnes in Assam during the period of 2009-10 and it’s reached 13,600 tonnes in 2013-14. Meghalaya has produced 4,545 tonnes in 2009-10 and it’s reached 7,570 tonnes in 2013-14. Production of other northeast states was 1,904 tonnes in 2009-10 and it’s raised up to 3,520 tonnes in 2013-14.

The prices of dry rubber are fluctuating according to the policy of domestic and international rubber market. During the period of 2009-10, average market price of 100 kg RSS-4 dry rubber was Rs. 11,498.00 in India and during the period about Rs.266.29 crore entered into farmer’s pockets in northeast region. The price was growing up to Rs. 20,805.00 till 2011-12 in per 100 kg and recorded the highest price hiked in natural rubber history. Then northeast rubber farmers were able to earn about Rs. 630 crore during the period of price hiked.  But the price has grown down to Rs.17682.00 per 100 kg in 2012-13 and it’s again decreased to Rs. 16,602.00 in 2013-14.
Northeast region is considered as one the most favourable zone for natural rubber cultivation. This zone already been identified that about 4.5 lakh ha land suitable for rubber cultivation. Out of this figure only 1.5 ha land covered by rubber cultivation. There are about 2 lakh small holdings having an average 0.80 ha. rubber plantation. There are more than one lakh manpower are engaged directly or indirectly in natural rubber plantation sector in northeast India.
If the remaining suitable land will cover by natural rubber plantation in the region, there are immense opportunities for employment and the strengthening of rural economy in future. In northeast region, about three lakh ha. suitable land still not using for natural rubber cultivation. If this size of land will wrap up by natural rubber plantation, there is vast opportunity to resolve permanently about 3.5 lakh families and more than two lakh manpower can be engaged in natural rubber plantation sector.  And there is a great extent to bring approximate value Rs. 4,500 crore annually to the farmer’s hand.
It has been noticed that the farmers of remote villages of Northeast region pay no attention to about any modern technologies move into farming sectors. Besides this, they are very poor in conditions and they cannot procure required materials for the improvement of their traditional farming mechanism. Jhuming is their traditional cultivation practice and even now a major portion of hilly tribal’s they are practicing jhum cultivation. But due to the rapid increase of human population, over exploitation of forest produces, un-scientific use of land and some others issues farmers are demotivated towards the farming activities. So cultivation of natural rubber can be suggested for the farmers for sustainable livelihood. Government may be taken a long term plan and vision for the scientific expansion of natural rubber cultivation in potential zones. The Rubber Board India, central government organisation was set up for the all-round development in natural rubber plantation sector. A group of enthusiastic staff of Rubber Board, Indian rubber plantation sector today reached in a pleasing position and make India almost self sufficient of its need. But as per the farmer’s require, this organization needs more empowerment, facilities and financial support from the central government. Recently this Board is under sky-scraping stress of financial catastrophe. Owing to inference of fund by the central government, many plantation development schemes more or less fall down. The marginal farmers who will be needed little financial support from government now onward will be deprived from it. Many marginal farmers need financial supports from the board and the schemes were the key motivational strategy towards the rubber growers since the Board’s formed. But unexpectedly falling down the existing policy will harm to the farmers. Prime minister of India has taken hundreds of schemes for the development of northeast India, but how this potential sector is deleted from his list rather surprised to the farmers. If expansion of rubber cultivation and development can include as a part of prime minister “Make in India” project, surely it will be unbeaten development in rural areas of the region which will promote proper engagement of manpower, employment and setting-up of rubber base industries.
Jayanta Sonowal,

Monday, 21 March 2016

Cultural Operations

 April     

Rainguarding
Procurement of materials such as bituminous compound, polythene, fixing materials etc. may be done for rainguarding. Depending on the area to be covered, the rainguarding may be undertaken from April.
Spraying for the control of Abnormal leaf fall
The materials viz. Copper sulphate, lime, COC, spray oil etc. required for prophylactic spraying in May against abnormal leaf fall may be procured 30-50 kg of CuSO4 and lime or 8 kg COC and 40 L spray oil may be required per hectare. The spray equipment may be serviced well in advance.
Weeding
Weeding should be carried out before the fertilizer application. Weeds are then kept aside for drying and dried weeds can be used for mulching the plant basin.
Land Preparation
Land preparation for new planting and replanting can be continued during this period. Large trees of economic value should be removed first followed by felling and removal of smaller trees and slashing of undergrowth in the case of new planting. A light burn after felling and drying facilitates planting operations. Lining, terracing and pitting also may be undertaken during this period. Rubber may be planted either by adopting square (for level land) or rectangular (for level and near level lands) planting system. In undulating and hilly areas, contour lining should be undertaken and terraces should be cut along the contour to conserve moisture and prevent soil erosion. Instead of taking continuous terraces in the beginning, for economy, individual square platforms of size 1.25 m x 1.25 m can be constructed around each plant point and later on they can be joined together to form continuous terraces. Provision should be made for proper drainage.
Planting distance
The density recommended for proper growth and development of rubber is about 420-445 plants/ha. In the case of budded plants. It is preferable that the density should not exceed 500/ha.
Pitting and refilling
The standard size of the pit is 75 cm x 75 cm x 75 cm. In hard and stony soils, pits of size 90 cm x 90 cm x 90 cm can be taken. Filling should be done with top fertile soil. Well decomposed and powdered cow dung or compost at the rate of 12 kg and rock phosphate at the rate of 175 g per pit may be mixed with the top 30 cm soil in the pit.
Soil and water conservation
In sloppy areas, soil conservation measures may be undertaken at the time of land preparation itself to prevent soil erosion and to conserve water. Construction of stone pitched contour bunds (Edakkayyalas) and silt pits are the common conservation practices recommended other than contour terracing. Silt pits (trenches) of about 120 cm length , 45 cm width and 60 cm depth can be taken across the slope on the interspaces of rubber at the rate of about 250 pits per hectares.
Fertilizer application
Fertilizer recommendation to the individual fields based on soil and or leaf analysis will be more advantageous and economical and as far as possible it has to be followed. The facilities at the central soil and leaf testing laboratory attached to the Rubber Research Institute of India or the Regional laboratories can be utilized.
Immature rubber up to 4th year of planting
April – May is the planting season and for new plantings no fertilizer application is required during this time. For the initial four years, the discriminatory fertilizer recommendation based on the initial soil sample analysis if available can be followed. Otherwise the general fertilizer recommendation given below in table can be practiced. Two types of fertilizer mixtures either with magnesium or without magnesium is recommended. In Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu, Trissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, Wynad districts of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra regions the magnesium status of the soil is high and here 12:12:6 mixture is recommended. For all other regions in the traditional belt of rubber cultivation, Mg containing 10:10:4:1.5 NPKMg mixture is recommended. For Northeastern region 12:12:6 mixture is recommended. Similarly in the initial two years fertilizer mixtures containing half the quantity of phosphorus in the water soluble form will be more useful for better root development and plant establishment.

Fertilizer recommendation for initial four years
Year of planting
Year of planting
Dose of mixture (g/plant)10:10:4:1.5 12:12:6
Quantity per hectare10:10:4:1.5 2:12:6
1st yearApril – May
0
Not required
-
-
2nd year April-May
9
450
380
200
190
3rd yearApril-May
21
550
480
250
215
4th year April-May
33
450
380
200
170
The fertilizer mixture mentioned above can be prepared by mixing straight fertilizers and the quantity of straight fertilizers needed are provided in the table below:
Mixture
Urea (kg)
Rockphosphate (20%) (kg)
Super phosphate (kg)
Muriate of potash (kg)
Magnesium sulphate (kg)
10:10:4:1.5
12:12:6
22.0
26.0
50.0
60.0
--
--
7.0
10.0
10.0
--
10:10(5):4:1.5
22.0
32.0
25.0
7.0
10.0
12:12(6):6
26.0
37.0
27.0
10.0
--
Immature rubber from fifth year to tapping
From fifth year of planting till maturity the quantity of fertilizer to be applied is based on the management practices followed in the initial four years.
If the fields were properly mulched and good cover crop was maintained in the initial years, then the general fertilizer recommendation is 30 kg/ha each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. This can be supplied through 65 kg urea, 150 kg rock phosphate and 150 kg muriate of potash. The fertilizer can be supplied in two splits one in April-May and the other in September-October depending upon the rain and availability of moisture in the soil. Hence during April-May, half of the recommended fertilizer can be supplied through 32.5 kg urea, 75 kg rock phosphate and 25 kg muriate of potash. These straight fertilizers should be mixed together on the day of application and should not be stored for later use. The entire quantity can be uniformly applied to the field.
If mixing of straight fertilizers is not possible the ready to use mixtures can be purchased and applied to the field. The mixtures available in the market and the per hectare requirement is given below. Depending upon the number of trees per hectare, the entire quantity can be equally distributed in the field.

Fertilizer mixture/complexQuantity (kg/ha)
10:10:10
150
12:12:12
125
15:15:15
17:17:17
100
90
19:19:19
Factomphos (75kg) + Muriate of potash (25 kg)
80
100
If no cover crop was established and no mulching was practiced in the initial years then application of 200 kg of 15:10:6 NPK mixture is recommended for one season. The same can be supplied through 65kg of urea, 100 kg of rockphosphate and 20 kg of muriate of potash.
Mature rubber under tappingThe general fertilizer recommendation for mature rubber under tapping is 30 kg each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The entire quantity of fertilizer can be applied as single dose in April-May or it can be applied in two split doses one in April-May and the second in September-October. This can be supplied through mixing 65 kg urea, 150 kg rock phosphate and 50 kg muriate of potash. If two split application is followed then apply half the quantity of these fertilizers during April-May season. Instead of mixing straight fertilizers, ready to use mixtures can also be used and the same quantity provided in the table given above may be used.
The quantity of fertilizer application for well managed plantations from fifth year onwards is same as that of the mature rubber and hence the requirement for fertilizer mixture given in the table can be followed for mature rubber also. No fertilizer applications are recommended for mature plantations which are expected to be replanted within a period of three years.
For north eastern region for mature rubber the fertilizer recommendation is 35:35:35 NPK kg/ha. This can be supplied through 350 kg of 10:10:10 NPK mixture either in single dose or in two equal splits one in April-May and the second in September-October.
Method of fertilizer application
Immature rubber
Up to fourth year apply the fertilizers at the base of the plants in circular bands. The band width can be increased with the age of the plant and the fertilizer may be mixed with the soil by slight forking for preventing the losses. From fifth year onwards apply the fertilizers in rectangular or square patches in between four plants.
Mature rubber
Apply the fertilizers in rectangular or square patches in between four trees. The fertilizers can also be broadcasted in between the rows of trees.
   

  

Cultural operations

March     

Protection of rubber plants from the severe summer forms the main cultural operation during March.
Shading
Ensure that the shades provided to the young plants are intact and sufficient, to provide enough shade during the summer season.
Irrigation
If necessary, provide irrigation to the nursery plants in the morning and evening. If enough irrigation to drench the nursery beds can be given, watering may be limited to once a week.  Very large nurseries can be divided into several plots and irrigated in cycles to cover each plot at least once a week.
Pruning
Pruning of young shoots from the main stem on budded plants should be done using a sharp knife.  All off - shoots arising within 2.4 meters from the ground level in both seedlings and budded plants have to be pruned taking care not to affect the growth of the plants by removing too many leaves.  When pruning is done in the early stages there is no need to apply  wound dressing compound.  No branches should be allowed to grow
in the stem region where tapping panel has to be opened later.
Cover Crop
Dried seeds of cover crop (Pueraria)  is collected during this period.
Rainguarding
Rainguarding enables tapping of the rubber trees in the rainy season. Fixing rain guards on rubber trees should be initiated before the commencement of rainy season during the month of March-April, so as to enable tapping in the following rainy season.  The most popular and cheapest method of rain guarding is use of polythene sheets.  Polythene sheets of 300 gauge, 45 cm wide cut to size to cover the tapping panel and the cup used for collection of latex are fixed to the trees using pins and paste just above the tapping panel.  Leaving 10 cm on either side of the panel, scrape the bark in a 4 cm wide band, 10 cm above and parallel to the tapping panel to make it smooth.  Apply the paste (Bitubest or Polystik) thickly on the scraped area.  Then fix the polythene sheets of sufficient length, over the bitumen paste.  Press a rough cloth band cut 2 cm wide with sufficient length onto the top of the polythene sheet and fix it to the bark using stapler pins.  Apply another coat of the paste over the cloth band in order to prevent entry of water inside the polythene sheet and into the tapping panel.
Disease Control
In order to control the leaf spot disease on the seedlings in nurseries, Bordeaux mixture 1% or Indofil /  Dithane M 45 (2.5g / l) may be applied.

Cultural Operations

 February     

Severe summer may affect leaves and basal bark tissue of small plants, resulting in their drying up. This has to be prevented by appropriate protection measures. In the case of budded stumps, shade has to be given by using shade baskets and also by mulching using dry leaves and plant parts. Usually shade baskets made of bamboo or plaited coconut leaves are used, the baskets having 45-60 cm height and 30-45cm diameter. Plants raised in polybags may not require this type of shading.
Mulching is usually done using dried leaves, grass, cover crops etc. Mulching is ideal for maintaining soil moisture and soil temperature, to increase the organic matter content in the soil and to prevent weed growth.
Whitewashing
White washing should be adopted from the second year of planting till the canopy closes in order to protect the stem portion of the plants from sunburn. For this the brown stem portion between the bud union and the first branch is whitewashed using lime. This is done based on the principle that white surfaces will not absorb too much of heat. For whitewashing using quick lime, copper sulphate need not be added. Using china clay, mud etc will not serve the purpose.
Fire belt
Precautions have to be taken, as the chance of fire is very high in rubber plantations during summer and hence fire belts have to be made around the plantation. This is done by removing all vegetation like bushes and also removing all dried leaves in an area of 5-7 m width around the plantations, in the form of a belt, so that even if a fire occurs outside the plantation, it will not spread into the plantation. All other possible precautions against fire should be taken, as it will always be beneficial. The fire belt has to be cleaned frequently of dried leaves, which may accumulate in this area. It is advisable to insure plantations against natural hazards like fire and storm.
Other protection measures
Cattle should not be allowed into rubber plantations. Cattle may feed on rubber plants and also cover crops thus destroying them besides damaging the superficial root system of rubber plants. Fencing around the plantations or constructing retaining walls can be useful.
The most important aspect to be taken care of while establishing a new plantation is the protection of young rubber plants especially in the initial two to three years. Anything that may suppress the growth of the rubber plants during this period may adversely affect its growth in future and will consequently affect the economic stability of the crop in later stages. However better care is given in later situations for such plants, they may not improve from the setback that occurred in the initial growth phases.
Shading for polybag plants
In order to protect the young polybag plants kept in open spaces, from drying in severe summer, shade has to be necessarily given. Plaited coconut leaves that permit passage of sufficient light can be used to partially cover the sides and top portions of the polybag nursery.
Irrigation
To ensure vigorous growth of the young rubber plants in the nursery, in summer season, regular irrigation is recommended. Irrigation should be given only in the morning and evenings. For nurseries spread over large areas it is advisable to divide the area into blocks and then irrigate the blocks by rotation depending on the availability of water. For irrigating polybag plants in the nursery the ideal time is evenings.
Controlling leaf diseases
Incidence of leaf spot and bird’s eye spot on the leaves of young plants in the nursery is common in summer season. These diseases are caused by fungi and can be controlled effectively by application of 1% Bordeaux mixture.
Powdery mildew disease
If refoliation of trees in the plantations extends over a long time, there is the possibility of repeated incidence of powdery mildew in the young developing foliage and also in the polybag plants. During the period of refoliation in plantations, it is advised to apply Sulphur dust (325 mesh size) at the rate of 11-14kg per hectare. This can be applied 3-6 times during this period, at an interval of 7-14 days.
A mixture of 70% Sulphur and 30% talc is recommended and this should be applied using a dusting machine. For young plants and polybag plants, wettable sulphur (Sulfex) at the rate of 10 g in 4 liters of water should be applied once at an interval of 7-10 days using sprayers.
Spraying of wettable sulphur and Bavistin on alternate days at an interval of 7-14 days and application of 5g Bavistin and 1.25 g wettable Sulphur together in one liter of water also is very effective.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Natural Rubber: Cultural Operations : January

As the rainy season is over, young rubber seedlings in the nursery should be irrigated in the morning and evening. Irrigation, sufficient to drench the nursery, once in four days is enough. In large nurseries, the area may be divided into different quarters and irrigated on rotation. Polybag plants also should be irrigated preferably in the evenings.
Leaf diseases rubberboard.org.in
Summer season is favourable for occurrence of Corynespora leaf spot disease in young rubber plants. Several small and large spots appear initially on the leaf surface which later join together resulting in shot holes and the leaves fall off when severe. Spraying of 1% Bordeaux mixture or Dithane (Indofil) M45 0.2%  can effectively control the disease. The intensity of the disease can be reduced by providing shade in the nursery. 
Another leaf disease occurring in young rubber plants, during this period is the birds eye spot. This disease can also be controlled by the fungicide mentioned above.
Powdery mildew disease
As many of the plantations are in the initial stages of refoliation, during this period, occurrence of powdery mildew disease is common. It can also be intense in polybag grown plants. Misty days and intermittent rains of low intensity forms the ideal condition for the spread of this disease. Initially tender leaves develop white fungal spots which later turns into ash colored powdery spots.  Affected tender leaves gets dried up and drops off after curling. Under favorable climate repeated incidence of the disease may occur. 
Application of 11-14 kg 325 mesh size Sulphur dust, 3-5 times at an interval of 7-14 days from the time of sprouting of leaf buds in at least 10 % trees in the plantation till the wintering is over will effectively control the disease. Sulphur is available as a mixture with talc powder in a 70:30 ratio. Dusting should be done using tree dusting machines. Sulphur dust can be most efficiently applied in the early hours of the days when the leaves remain wet due to presence of dew, which favour sticking of the dust on the leaves.
For seedlings and polybag grown plants, wettable suphur  at the rate of 10 g in 4 liter water can be applied using sprayers, at an interval of 7-10 days. An alternative is the applications of Carbendazim (Bavistin) 0.05% solution (1 g in 1 litre water). Wettable sulphur and Carbendazim may be applied alternatively for more effective disease contorl.
White washing
From the second year of growth till the canopy covers, application of lime on the brown stem portion from the bud union up to the first fork is advised in order to protect the stem from sunburn. Copper sulphate need not be added in the preparation of lime solution. Application of lime is more effective than application of china clay. 
 
Pruning
Branching of the rubber plants up to a height of 2.5 m  should not be allowed. As the tapping commences at a height of 1.25 m in budded trees, any branching below this height will create difficulty for tapping.  Hence branches up to this height should be pruned off close to the main stem, using sharp knives.
Fire break
As the plantations are more prone to fire damage  in summer season, precaution be taken against it from the beginning of the summer season itself. A fire break (fire belt) should be provided around the plantation for a width of 5-7 meters by clearing off all plants and dried leaves in this area. As the defoliated leaves may keep on accumulating in 
the fire break it has to be regularly removed and the area kept clean.
Mulching
Mulching of small rubber plants using dried leaves, grass or cover crop is recommended before the onset of dry season to prevent loss of soil moisture from the plant base,  to increase the soil organic matter content and to control the growth of weeds. It may be done at a distance of 5-7.5 cm away from the base of the plant.
Rainguards
If the rainguards fixed on the trees for the rainy season has not been removed till now, it should be removed. If tapping shades are used they should be carefully removed to prevent any damage so that they can be reused next year.
Shade in nurseries
To prevent drying of polybag plants during  the severe summer season, nurseries should be provided with partial shade with plaited coconut leaves which allows partial sunlight for the growth of the plants.
Tapping
If the crop production during the summer season is found to be economical, no tapping rest is needed during this period and tapping may be continued once in three days

Santalum album

Santalum album or Indian sandalwood is a small tropical tree, and is the most commonly known source of sandalwood. This species has historically been cultivated, processed and traded since ancient times. Certain cultures place great significance on its fragrant and medicinal qualities. The high value of the species has caused its past exploitation, to the point where the wild population is vulnerable to extinction. Indian sandalwood still commands high prices for its essential oil, but due to lack of sizable trees it is no longer used for fine woodworking as before. The plant is widely cultivated and long lived, although harvest is viable after 40 years

The height of the evergreen tree is between 4 and 9 metres. They may live to one hundred years of age. The tree is variable in habit, usually upright to sprawling, and may intertwine with other species. The plant parasitises the roots of other tree species, with a haustorium adaptation on its own roots, but without major detriment to its hosts. An individual will form a non-obligaterelationship with a number of other plants. Up to 300 species (including its own) can host the tree's development - supplying macronutrients phosphorusnitrogen and potassium, and shade - especially during early phases of development. It may propagate itself through wood suckeringduring its early development, establishing small stands. The reddish or brown bark can be almost black and is smooth in young trees, becoming cracked with a red reveal. The heartwood is pale green to white as the common name indicates. The leaves are thin, opposite and ovate to lanceolate in shape. Glabrous surface is shiny and bright green, with a glaucous pale reverse. Fruit is produced after three years, viable seeds after five. These seeds are distributed by birds.

Distribution It is a hemiparasitic tree, native to semi-arid areas of the Indian subcontinent It is now planted in India, China, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Northern Australia.

Habitat
S. album occurs from coastal dry forests up to 700 m elevation. It normally grows in sandy or stony red soils, but a wide range of soil types are inhabited. This habitat has a temperature range from 0 to 38 °C and annual rainfall between 500 and 3000 mm.

Conservation
The species is threatened by over-exploitation and degradation to habitat through altered land use; fire, agriculture and land-clearing are the factors of most concern. To preserve this vulnerable resource from over-exploitation, legislation protects the species, and cultivation is researched and developed.
The Indian government has placed a ban on the export of the timber.
Uses
S. album has been the primary source of sandalwood and the derived oil. These often hold an important place within the societies of its naturalised distribution range. The high value of the plant has led to attempts at cultivation, this has increased the distribution range of the plant. The ISO Standard for the accepted characteristics of this essential oil is ISO 3518:2002. HPTLC and GC, GC-MS based methods are used for qualitative and quantitative analyses of the volatile essential oil constituents. The long maturation period and difficulty in cultivation have been restrictive to extensive planting within the range. Harvest of the tree involves several curing and processing stages, also adding to the commercial value. These wood and oil have high demand and are an important trade item in the regions of:
India
The use of S. album in India is noted in literature for over two thousand years. It has use as wood and oil in religious practices. It also features as a construction material in temples and elsewhere. The Indian government has banned the export of the species to reduce the threat by over-harvesting. In the southern Indian state of Karnataka, all trees of greater than a specified girth are the property of the state. Cutting of trees, even on private property, is regulated by the Forest Department. The infamous forest bandit Veerappanwas involved in the illegal felling of sandalwood trees from forests.
Sri Lanka
The harvesting of sandalwood is preferred to be of trees that are advanced in age. Saleable wood can, however, be of trees as young as seven years. The entire plant is removed rather than cut to the base, as in coppiced species. The extensive removal of S. albumover the past century led to increased vulnerability to extinction.
Australia
Utilisation of native Australian Santalum species in has been extensive; Santalum spicatum was extensively harvested and exported from Western Australia during colonisation, this was used as a less expensive alternative to this species. There are two commercial Indian sandalwood plantations in full operation based in Kununurra, Western Australia

Ethnopharmacological Uses
Sandalwood oil has been widely used in folk medicine for treatment of common colds, bronchitis, skin disorders, heart ailments, general weakness, fever, infection of the urinary tract, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, liver and gallbladder complaints and other maladies. Recently, the in vivo anti-hyperglycemic and antioxidant potentials of α-santalol and sandalwood oil were demonstrated in Swiss Albino mice. Additionally, different in vitro and in vivo parts of the plant have been shown to possess antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, possibly attributed to sesquiterpenoids, shikimic acid, etc.



Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Natural Rubber Maintenance

Cultural Operations : December     

The nursery beds are to be kept free of weeds. Mulching is an important operation to be undertaken in seedling nurseries before the beginning of summer. Natural materials like tree lopping, dry leaves, undergrowth from forests, grass cuttings, cut cover crop material after drying are commonly used for mulching. Mulching helps to retain soil moisture. For irrigating large nurseries, sprinkler system would be ideal, whereas manual watering is convenient and cheap for small nurseries. The quantity of water required varies with soil, climate and age of plants. In general, nurseries are to be irrigated at an interval of 2 to 3 days.

Polybag nursery

This is the ideal time to raise rubber plants in polybags. Plants raised in polybags for six to seven months when planted in the field are expected to become tappable about one year earlier. Selection of plants with uniform growth for field planting is possible when polybag plants are used. The reduction in immaturity period proportionately reduces the expenditure during this phase.  Black-coloured polybags are better as they ensure a better growth and development of roots. Sufficient holes if punched in the bottom half of the polybags will ensure proper drainage. Rock phosphate (50g) should be mixed in the top 20 cm soil in the polybag just before planting the budded stumps. Planted stumps should be irrigated in the evenings. Nurseries in open places should have overhead pandals to give protection to the sprouting stumps from hot sunlight.
Plants grown in nursery beds and polybags are affected by leaf spot and powdery mildew diseases. Application of 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% Dithane M-45 / Indofil M-45 (2.66 g/L water) is recommended for control of the leaf spot diseases.
Chances of young polybag plants under irrigation and shade getting infected with powdery mildew are very high. Infected young leaves show white fungal myclial growth forming small to larger sports which appear like powder sticking on the leaves. Affected leaves gradually get dried up, curl and drop. This can be controlled by spraying wettable sulphur at the rate of 10 g in 4 litres of water once in 7-10 days. Applying Bavistin 1 g per litre of water can also control the disease. Alternative application of sulphur and Bavistin is more effective. Sulphur dust can also be applied either by using a hand rotatory duster or by dusting the fungicide onto the young leaves by tapping the sac made out of cloth, containing sulphur dust.

Immature plants

The young plants in the field should also be protected from the severity of sun. Plaited coconut leaves can be used for covering one-year-old plants in the field.
Two to four-year-old plants which are likely to be exposed to the sun, should be protected by applying a coat of lime from the bud union to the first branching region. Such protection should be given on the side, most affected by hot sunlight. Copper sulphate need not be added to the lime. White washing should be done only on the brown coloured bark of the plants.
Branches dried due to pink disease should be cut and the cut surface be applied with Bordeaux paste.
The base of young plants in the field should be mulched using dried leaves, grass or cover crop. Mulching should be done leaving 5 to 7.5 cm from the plant base. Mulching will help the plants to protect the plant base from scorching in the severe summer.

Mature rubber

Precautions should be taken to prevent fire hazards in rubber plantations well in advance. This is best done by taking fire breaks (fire belts) around the plantations. A belt of 5-7m width should be maintained by clearing all dried leaves and shrubs and other plants. It is also better to insure the plantations against hazards like fire and storm.
In powdery mildew disease-prone areas, arrangements for procuring sulphur and servicing the dusters may be made in advance of the wintering.