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Agriculture > Plantation Crops > Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis)

Crop Management

Land Preperation and Planting

Since June-July is the ideal period for planting rubber in South India, all the pre-planting operations should be completed before the onset of monsoon.

Clearing

The land to be brought under rubber cultivation should be cleared of all vegetation. A light burn after felling the trees and drying facilitates planting operations and slows down the regeneration of weeds. Nevertheless, excessive cleaning and burning may cause the destruction of soil and expose the soil to erosion.

Replanting the old areas has to be thought of when the yield falls and the cultivation becomes uneconomic. The old trees may be slaughter tapped with yield stimulant application before felling.

Lining

Rubber can be planted by adopting square or rectangular planting system.

Square planting is suitable for level and near level lands.

Rectangular system can be adopted in flat lands and slopes and the lines should be oriented in the east-west direction to intercept maximum sunlight.

Contour lining is done in undulating and hilly areas where the slope exceeds 8 per cent. Here the planting points are marked as lines passing through points of the same elevation.

Planting density

  1. Buddings or plants proposed to be field budded: 420 to 445 plants per ha
  2. Seedlings: 445 to 520 plants per ha.

Higher initial stand is recommended for allowing proper thinning out. During the period of immaturity and initial years of tapping, selective thinning should be carried out so as to reduce the stand per ha to 310 by the 10th year of tapping for buddings and seedlings.

Methods for prevention of erosion

  1. On hilly and undulating terrain, cutting of terraces along the contour is a recommended practice to conserve moisture and prevent erosion. The soil on the hill side is cut from a distance of 60-75 cm in front of the planting row and thrown back in such a way that the terraces so formed will have a width of 1.25 to 1.5 m and an inward drop of 20-30 cm. Steps of uncut earth are left out at intervals along the terraces to check lateral flow of water
  2. Silt pits (trenches of about 120 cm length, 45 cm width and 60 cm depth) are also made along the contour at suitable intervals to check erosion and to conserve water. Pits can be taken at the rate of 200-250 per ha depending on the degree of slope
  3. Construction of stone pitched contour bunds is another method to check erosion in steep slopes

Pitting and refilling

The standard size of the pit is 75 cm x 75 cm x 75cm. The size of the pits varies depending upon the planting material to be used.

Stumped buddings need comparatively deeper and larger pits.

Smaller pits are sufficient for small and medium sized polybag plants.

In deep, loose and friable soils, pits are dug wider at the top and tapering towards the bottom or the depth is reduced to 60 cm with a central crow bar (alavango) hole of 15 cm or more depth for taproot. But in hard, stony and compact soils, the pits should be widened.

While digging, the topsoil is kept on one side and the subsoil on another side. Filling should be done with the top fertile soil as far as possible. The organic manure and phosphatic fertilizers applied to the pits should be mixed with the top 20 cm soil in the pit. The pits should be filled to about 5 cm above ground level. A peg is placed in the centre of the pit to locate the planting point.

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Field Planting

Continuous wet weather during June-July is considered to be ideal for planting rubber.

Types of planting

i) Seed at stake planting:

The system of planting seeds is called seed at stake planting and it is followed by field budding. Two or three germinated seeds may be planted in a line or triangle. The weaker plants should be thinned out later, allowing the most vigorous one to grow on which field budding is carried out at the appropriate stage.

ii) Stump planting:

It is advisable to plant the stumps soon after pulling out from nursery beds. While planting budded stumps, the bud patch should be just above the ground level. If a considerable part of the stock below the union is left above the ground level, it may maximize the effect of ‘elephant foot’. If kept below the soil, the union is likely to be infected by soil organisms.

iii) Polybag planting:

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  1. A planting hole slightly bigger than the size of the bag is made
  2. The bottom of the bag is completely cut and then the bag along with the plant is inserted into the planting hole
  3. A vertical cut is made at the bottom of the plastic sleeve, taking care not to damage the roots. Then the cut is continued upwards as the hole is gradually filled so that the cylinder of soil is unbroken
  4. When the hole is partially filled, the bag is slit along its full length and carefully pulled away. The soil is finally packed firmly around the plants
  5. While planting, the scion of the polybag plants should be directed towards north-east to minimize the adverse effect of direct sunlight on the bud patch.

iv) Budded stump planting:

Seedlings raised in nurseries are budded and transplanted after pruning the stem at about 8 cm from the bud patch.

After care

After planting, the plants should be inspected at regular intervals and the false shoots sprouting from the stock should be removed and only the vigorous bud shoot is allowed to develop. Any side shoot developing up to 2.5 m from the ground level should also be removed.

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