Rubber-Inter cultivation

Young rubber plant need to be protected from heavy sun. Platted coconut leaves can be used for shading.

Growing cover crop is the most efficient practice for weed control in rubber in early stages. The most common cover crop recommended in rubber is Pueraria phaseoloides and Mucuna bracteata. Cover crop should not be grown in a circle of about 2 meter diameter around the plants.

The recommended herbicide in rubber plantation is Glyphosate 41 SL (2 liters/ha). Most of the herbicide has adverse effect on growth of cover crops. Hence it may be used only on the platforms (planting lines).

Application of herbicides in the plant basin alone and slash weeding the remaining inter plant area along the planting strip was found to be cost effective and sustainable.

Mulching is recommended at early stage of growth using dry leaves; grass cutting, cover crop lopping etc. around the plants. Usually November is the ideal time for mulching to protect the plant from the adverse effect of drought.

Fertilizers should be applied in square or rectangular patches in between rows, each patch serving four trees. Once the canopy of the plants closes, say, 5 to 6 years after planting, light forking to incorporate the fertilizers into the top soil is necessary.

In areas where the legume ground cover is present or where the legume cover has died out leaving a thick mulch, it is enough to broadcast the fertilizers between two rows of rubber trees.  Deep pocket placement of fertilizers and application too close to the base of the trees should be avoided.

In case of magnesium deficiency symptoms use 50 kg of commercial magnesium sulphate per hectare.

Soil and water conservation measures like cutting terraces along the contour have to be done. Silt pits have to be made along the contour.

The false shoots sprouting from the stock should be removed and only the vigorous bud shoot should be allowed to develop. Any side shoot developing up to 2.5 meters from the ground level should be removed.

Brown barks of young plants should be protected from sun scorch by white washing the main stem with lime from second year of planting.

The common intercrops cultivated in rubber plantations are banana, pineapple, ginger and turmeric, vegetables, medicinal plants, tuber crops etc.

In plantations of slope less than 5 per cent any intercrop is recommended. If slop is more than 25 per cent, no inter crop is recommended.

To achieve a high rate of girth increase plants should produce branches at a height of 2.5 to 3 meter from the ground. It is done by allowing a few lateral buds to develop, by leaf capping.

The best month to open new areas for tapping is March. It is necessary to commence tapping early in the morning as late tapping reduces the exudation of latex.