Two strange things have been observed with small holder rubber growers in my area one, initiate tapping before the rubber tree is matured enough to be tapped and two, fall the victim of easy money by leasing out of their rubber plantations to the dealer. The results of these two activities are noticeable within short term.
The result, it’s myriad and irreparable. Let us see the result that I’ve seen with few plantation and small holder rubber growers.
Tapping before it’s fit to be tapped
The standard and recommended methods well-known rubber growers follow with respect to tapping age and girth of the rubber tree is 7(seven) years and 50centimeter. But the general tendencies, that I’ve observed with few small rubber growers is that they start tapping at the age of 6(six) years and girth of below 50 centimeter.
The immediate result is; less latex yield and tree growth is stunted and, tree growth deformed in the tapping panel.
Another misconception with rubber growers are that they start tapping even before reaching the prescribed age of the rubber tree looking to the growth and girth of the rubber tree. What happen is; tree growth varies plantation to plantation depending upon the in situ soil fertility condition and proper nutrient management.
Rubber seedlings planted in the fertile land coupled with proper nutrient management ensures fast growth of the rubber tree but that does not alone qualify that the rubber tree is fit to be tapped. But few rubber growers don’t wait for the minimum required age and girth of the rubber trees.
Leasing out of rubber plantation to other
Of these two endeavors, this is one of the worst of its kind. This is due to the fact that people who lease out the plantation have no mercy on the rubber plantation. They lease out the plantation for a specific period so their goal is to extract as much is possible within that specified period. In doing so, they take up the followings;
1. alternate tapping is hardly followed
2. tapping depth is not maintained
3. tapping panel is not maintained properly
4. no nutrient management is maintained
5. tapping haphazardly including in the branches
Though the plantation owners earn some easy money from his plantation but by the time lease period is over what is left out is; unfit and non-tap able rubber trees in the plantation.
Therefore, it could be advisable that growers should stick to the specific recommendation for tapping of rubber trees other wise, long term profit yielding tree will be become trees of misery.
So far as leasing out of the rubber plantation is concerned, leasing should be executed (if unavoidable) to the known and trust worthy person to avoid the abuse of the rubber trees.
N:B: For specific recommendation with respect to tapping procedure including age and girth of the rubber tree may be referred to rubber board.