Kerala, also known as the land of Gods, spices, rubber, and coconut is one of the most beautiful states in India. With a shoreline of about 600 kilometres sleeping along the Stunning Arabian Sea, it lies on India’s tropical Malabar Coast. Known for palm-lined blue beaches, backwaters, mangrove forests, and a network of canals.
Slopes of Kerala support tea, coffee, and spice plantations as well as wildlife. Among all these the most forgotten substances that conquered the world market from World Cup to Eraser is Rubber. Rubber is an essential part that is sustaining our economy when considered from a different point of view.
But before planting rubber trees there are certain things to be noted.
Rubber requires a certain amount of conditions, a temperature between 25-degree celsius to 35-degree celsius, a sufficient humidity rate of about 75%, and about five to six hours of adequate sunlight to produce effectively. Kerala being a coastal state offers all these necessary conditions due to its moderate temperature and humid climate.
Kerala is a huge hub of Rubber Plantations which contributes to the market economy of not only later but also India. This is why it is also referred to as green gold.
Climatic Conditions and soil requirements for Rubber
1. Ranging between RR 5, RRII 105, RRII 414, RRII 430, RRIM 600, RRIM 703, PB 217, and PB 235 rubber trees come in different varieties. The above are a few names on this list. In Kerala RRI 105 is the most preferred variety of rubber due to its high-yielding ability. In fact, rubber plantations require a pH value lying between 5 and 6. This is considered ideal for plants.
2. Along with this 200 to 300 cm of rainfall is needed to grow the plantation. Good aeration and water content of the soil are equally important.
3. The plant sapling is prepared and put inside the dig in the dimension of about 50 cm * 50 cm* 75 cm. Around 10-12 kg of the soil is poured over these pits and mixed with topsoil.
4. A nutrient-rich bed is prepared in this way. After preparing the soil the rubber plant saplings are planted into it.
5. The month of June and July is preferred to plant the saplings. It is the monsoon time of the year in Kerala. The agricultural needs are met by supplying the mineral and nutrient content to the soil from the third month depending on the requirement of the soil. Rubber trees require nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
These salts are considered very important for rubber plantations.
Production of the latex
As it is said that nothing comes easy. You need to be really patient with the rubber trees. A fully grown rubber tree requires around 6 to 7 years. During this time they are ready for tapping. Tapping is the process of collecting latex from the trees. Whenever selecting a tree tapping the width of the tree is an important factor rather than age.
Tapping requires about 200-300– days per year. Sounds a lot right? However, a lot more things depend upon the climatic conditions and an individual tree as well. Tapping is preferably done early in the morning. This is to make sure as trees start to precipitate in the sunlight. This hampers the tapping process.
Early in the morning in the absence of sunlight, the flow of the latex remains healthy. The barks of the tree are prepared during this time. A cut is applied to the bark of the trees and the latex is collected for straight 3 hours.
What is Latex?
Latex refers to the thick colloidal solution. It is an emulsion of polymer microparticles in water. It consists of protein starches, sugars, oils, tannins, resins, and gums. The latex is collected and coagulated for 6 to 8 hours after mixing with formic acid.
When doing rubber plantations keep in mind that growing cover crops is really important. But what are cover crops? Cover crops are grown along the main plantations to prevent soil erosion, conserve soil moisture, keep down the soil temperature and add mulch and organic matter to the soil.
Here comes the final product
The solid masses of coagulates are rolled into sheets with the help of rollers. The processed rubber sheets are then dried in sunlight. The drying can take up to several days. However, sunlight and temperature are deciding factors in this process. Once the sheets are dried they are ready for sale.
Isn’t it interesting how some drops that fell from the tissues of trees after being injured serve so many purposes in our lives? From small rubber bands used to tie hair to huge truck tires rubber is an essential unit that fuels various requirements for the functioning of the world.