Cultivation of Rubber: Complete guide on Rubber tree farming involves in seed treatment, planting, pest management, irrigation, harvesting and uses.
Scientific name of Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis Muell-Arg.) Euphorbiaceae:
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, as initially produced, consists of polymers of the organic compound isoprene, with minor impurities of other organic compounds plus water. Malaysia is a leading producer of rubber. Forms of polyisoprene that are used as natural rubbers are classified as elastomers. Natural rubber is used by many manufacturing companies for the production of rubber products. Currently, rubber is harvested mainly in the form of the latex from certain trees. The latex is a sticky, milky colloid drawn off by making incisions into the bark and collecting the fluid in vessels in a process called “tapping”. The latex then is refined into rubber ready for commercial processing. Natural rubber is used extensively in many applications and products, either alone or in combination with other materials. In most of its useful forms, it has a large stretch ratio and high resilience, and is extremely waterproof.
Tjir 1, PB 86, BD 5, BD 10, PR 17, GT 1, RRII 105, RRIM 600, PB 28/59, PB 217, PB 235, RRIM 703, RRII 5, PCK-1, 2 and PB 260
Soil and climate:
It requires deep and lateritic fertile soil with an acidic pH of 4.5 to 6.0 and highly deficient in available phosphorous. Tropical climate with annual rainfall of 2000 – 4500 mm is suited for cultivation. Minimum and maximum temperature should be ranged from 25 to 34°C with 80 % relative humidity is ideal for cultivation. Regions prone to heavy winds should be avoided.
June – July is optimum for cultivation
Method of propagation:
Propagated by green budding, brown budding and crown budding.
Nursery: Bed size: 60-120 cm width and of convenient length.
Spacing: Seedling stumps – 23 x 23 cm, 30 x 30 cm and 34 x 20 cm
Budded stumps – 30 x 30 cm
Stump budding – 60 x 60 cm
Bud wood nursery – 60 x 90 cm or 60 x 120 cm.
Manuring: Basal -2.5 t/ha of FYM and 350kg/ha of Rock Phosphate.
1.5 – 2 months after planting –10:10:4:1.5 NPKMg mixture -2500 kg/ha.
Urea @550 kg /ha -3 to 3.5 months.
Planting: Pit size of 1 m3 are dug and filled up with top soil and compost
In situ sowing: Germinated seeds are sown in situ in the pits. Healthy ones are retained and
the others removed.
For immature rubber trees at pre-tapping stage:
Apply 12 kg of compost or FYM and 120 g of rock phosphate in each pit before planting. Apply 10:10:4:1.5 NPK andMg
Apply 400 kg of mixture/ha in 2 doses, once in April/May and another in September/October from the 5th year till the tree is ready for tapping.
Matured rubber trees under tapping:
For matured rubber trees under tapping apply NPK 10:10:10 grade mixtures at the rate of 900 g/tree (300 kg/ha) every year in two split doses. Add 10 kg commercial Magnesium sulphate for every 100 kg of the above mixture if there is magnesium deficiency.
Growing of cover crops, incorporation of cover crops and weeding are important operations. Pueraria phaseoloides, Calopagonium muconoides, Centrosema pubescens and Desmodium evalifolium are common cover crops.
Ethrel is recommended to increase latex yield of trees. It is applied at 5% a.i. concentration with a brush below the tapping cut to a width of 5 cm after light scraping of the outer bark. The first application may be done after a drought period preferably after a few pre-monsoon showers and subsequent applications may be done in September and November. However, continuous application of Ethrel is not recommended for periods of more than 3 years at a stretch.
Tapping panel dryness (Brown bast):
Syndrome characterized by prolonged dripping of latex with the gradual decline in volume yield, pre coagulation of latex and partial or complete drying of tapping area (10-25 per cent).
Reduce tapping intensity or give a tapping rest for 3 to 12 months.
When severe infestation is noticed, spray Organophosphorus insecticides like malathion 50 EC 2 ml/lit.
Spray fish oil rosin-soap 25 g/lit. Release Austalian lady bird beetle, Cryptolaemus montrouzieri @ 10/tree.
Termite (White ant):
Drench the soil at the base of affected plants with Chlorpyriphos 20 EC 2 ml/litre.
Drench soil at the base of plants in the affected area with the solution of Chlorpyriphos 20 EC 2 ml/litre.
Spray Sulphur 50 WP at 2 g/lit or spray Dicofol 18.5 EC 2.5 ml/lit.
Abnormal leaf fall:
Prophylactic spraying on the foliage prior to the onset of South-West monsoon with, Bordeaux mixture 1% at 4000 – 5000 lit/ha using high volume sprayers.
Oil based Copper oxy chloride using low volume sprayer or through aerial application.
Two rounds of spray using about 17 to 22 lit of fungicide oil mixture per ha per round (1:6 proportion) at 10 to 15 days interval (or) a single round of spray with about 30 – 37 lit of fungicide oil mixture per ha (1:5 proportion).
Secondary leaf fall:
The control measures suggested for abnormal leaf fall will check this disease also.
Dusting during the defoliation period commencing from the bud break in about 10% of the trees, giving 3 to 5 rounds at weekly to fortnightly intervals before 10.00 a.m. using 11 to 14 kg 325 mesh fine Sulphur dust per round per ha. Sulphur dust can be mixed with talc in the proportion of 7:3. Wettable sulphur (1 kg in 4000 lit of water) is also effective in nurseries and for young plants as a spray.
Bird’s eye spot:
Repeated sprayings with Bordeaux mixture 1% or Mancozeb or Copper oxychloride 0.2%. Provide shade in nursery. Give balanced manuring to increase tree vigour.
Spray 1% Bordeaux mixture or 0.2% Mancozeb, or 0.1% Carbendazim at fortnightly intervals.
Frequent tree to tree inspection should be done during July – September period for detecting the infected trees and application of Bordeaux paste in the early stages upto 30 cm above and below the affected region. In advanced cases apply Bordeaux paste and when it dries up scrape off the superficial mycelium and damaged bark and apply Bordeaux paste once again. Prune off and burn the dried up branches after disinfecting by Bordeaux spraying.
Patch canker or Bark cankers:
The affected region may be scraped to remove all the rooting bark and the coagulated rubber and the wound washed well with Dithane M 45 @ 0.75 %. When the fungicide dries up apply wound dressing compound.
Dry rot, Stump rot, Collar rot or Charcoal rot:
Clean up affected areas, by washing with Carbendazim (0.1%) solution. Scrape out the fructifications. Affected bark and wood show black lines. Wash the wound again with fungicide solution. When it dries up apply a wound dressing compound. Avoid accumulation of rubber at the base of the trees.
Brown root disease:
Open up the root system. Completely killed and dried roots may be traced and pruned. Partially affected and healthy roots washed withfungicide Carbendazim (0.1%) solution. When the fungicide dries up, a thin coating with a wound dressing compound may be given. Refill the soil and drench the base with fungicide solution.
Rubber yield steeply increases year by year, reaching a peak after 14 years of planting. In South India, the annual yield of rubber is 375 kg/ha from seedlings trees, whereas budded plants yield 800 – 1000 kg/ha.
Compared to vulcanized rubber, uncured rubber has relatively few uses. It is used for cements; for adhesive, insulating, and friction tapes; and for crepe rubber used in insulating blankets and footwear. Vulcanized rubber, on the other hand, has numerous applications. Resistance to abrasion makes softer kinds of rubber valuable for the treads of vehicle tires and conveyor belts, and makes hard rubber valuable for pump housings and piping used in the handling of abrasive sludge.
The flexibility of rubber is often used in hose, tires, and rollers for a wide variety of devices ranging from domestic clothes wringers to printing presses; its elasticity makes it suitable for various kinds of shock absorbers and for specialized machinery mountings designed to reduce vibration. Being relatively impermeable to gases, rubber is useful in the manufacture of articles such as air hoses, balloons, balls, and cushions. The resistance of rubber to water and to the action of most fluid chemicals has led to its use in rainwear, diving gear, and chemical and medicinal tubing, and as a lining for storage tanks, processing equipment, and railroad tank cars. Because of their electrical resistance, soft rubber goods are used as insulation and for protective gloves, shoes, and blankets; hard rubber is used for articles such as telephone housings, parts for radio sets, meters, and other electrical instruments. The coefficient of friction of rubber, which is high on dry surfaces and low on wet surfaces, leads to the use of rubber both for power-transmission belting and for water-lubricated bearings in deep-well pumps.
Around 25 million tonnes of rubber is produced each year, of which 42 percent is natural rubber. The remainder is synthetic rubber derived from petrochemical sources. Around 70 percent of the world’s natural rubber is used in tires. The top end of latex production results in latex products such as surgeons’ gloves, condoms, balloons and other relatively high-value products. The mid-range which comes from the technically specified natural rubber materials ends up largely in tires but also in conveyor belts, marine products, windshield wipers and miscellaneous rubber goods. Natural rubber offers good elasticity, while synthetic materials tend to offer better resistance to environmental factors such as oils, temperature, chemicals or ultraviolet light and suchlike. “Cured rubber” is rubber which has been compounded and subjected to the vulcanisation process which creates cross-links within the rubber matrix.
Rubber produced as a fiber, sometimes called ‘elastic’, has significant value for use in the textile industry because of its excellent elongation and recovery properties. For these purposes, manufactured rubber fiber is made as either an extruded round fiber or rectangular fibers that are cut into strips from extruded film. Because of its low dye acceptance, feel and appearance, the rubber fiber is either covered by yarn of another fiber or directly woven with other yarns into the fabric. In the early 1900s, for example, rubber yarns were used in foundation garments. While rubber is still used in textile manufacturing, its low tenacity limits its use in lightweight garments because latex lacks resistance to oxidizing agents and is damaged by aging, sunlight, oil, and perspiration. Seeking a way to address these shortcomings, the textile industry has turned to neoprene (polymer of chloroprene), a type of synthetic rubber, as well as another more commonly used elastomer fiber, spandex (also known as elastane), because of their superiority to rubber in both strength and durability.
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