He­vea ap­pa­ra­tus makes old rub­ber trees pro­duc­tive again

Agriculture - - Contents -

A NEW TECH­NOL­OGY de­vel­oped in Malaysia can make old rub­ber trees pro­duc­tive again. Trees that are more than 50 years old at the rub­ber plan­ta­tion of the Cen­tral Min­danao Univer­sity in Bukid­non are pro­duc­ing about three times the latex of old trees not treated with the stim­u­lant.

The tech­nol­ogy uses a sim­ple ap­pa­ra­tus called He­vea H288 which in­jects eth­yl­ene into the latex ves­sels of the tree, stim­u­lat­ing latex flow as a re­sult. Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Rey­mon Ruba, di­rec­tor of the In­come-Gen­er­at­ing Pro­jects of CMU, 450 old trees that they tap ev­ery three days can yield 80 to 90 ki­los of latex in one tap­ping. Be­fore they adopted the new tech­nol­ogy, the same num­ber of trees usu­ally yielded just about 20 ki­los per tap­ping ev­ery two days.

Dr. Ruba re­vealed that he has been us­ing the ap­pa­ra­tus for more than a year now since Zetryl Chem Philip­pines in­tro­duced it for test­ing. The univer­sity has 142 hectares of rub­ber, 39,000 trees of which are pro­duc­tive. Many of the trees are over 50 years old but are still yield­ing de­cent amount of latex, thanks to the He­vea H288 ap­pa­ra­tus.

The ap­pa­ra­tus should be used only on healthy trees, ac­cord­ing to Dr. Ruba. It is not ad­vis­able for use in trees that are dis­eased or have been dam­aged for one rea­son or an­other. Dr. Ruba does not ad­vise to use the tech­nol­ogy on trees that are younger than 10 years old al­though it can be done. The rea­son is that the young trees will de­velop their trunks faster and in the long run, will yield more latex.

Old trees that are be­ing stim­u­lated with eth­yl­ene should be fer­til­ized with a bal­anced fer­til­izer like Z-Fert which con­tains the macro el­e­ments (NPK) and all the mi­cronu­tri­ents needed by the trees for their good health and pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Rub­ber, like other agri­cul­tural com­modi­ties, is sub­ject to price volatil­ity. Some­times, the price is very high but there are also times when the same goes down very low. What is good about rub­ber, how­ever, is that the prod­ucts (cu­plumps and creepe) can be stored for sev­eral years with­out spoilage. They have to be stored un­der fa­vor­able con­di­tions, how­ever. Creepe,

by the way, is the rub­ber sheet that re­sults when the co­ag­u­lated latex is passed through a creep­ing ma­chine.

Dr. Ruba said that they har­vest about 140 tons of cu­plumps and creepe in one year from their plan­ta­tion. To­day, the cu­plumps fetch R35 a kilo and a creepe com­mands R90 per kilo. CMU sells its pro­duc­tion half as cu­plump and half as creepe. A few years back, the price of rub­ber was high so that CMU

was able to sell R21- mil­lion worth of cu­plumps and creepe. Be­cause last year’s prices were low, Dr. Ruba said they de­cided not to sell all their stocks. They sold only R7.8 mil­lion.

Dr. Ruba said that with the He­vea H288 ap­pa­ra­tus, rub­ber pro­duc­tion could be much more prof­itable. The use of the ap­pa­ra­tus is very eco­nom­i­cal. The eth­yl­ene gas used to stim­u­late one tree per tap­ping costs only one to two pe­sos. The ap­pa­ra­tus is not ex­pen­sive be­cause it con­sists only of a plug, a plas­tic pouch, and a short plas­tic hose.

The CMU plan­ta­tion serves not just for latex pro­duc­tion. It also serves as a re­search and train­ing cen­ter. The rub­ber project has ac­ces­sions of dif­fer­ent va­ri­eties from Malaysia, In­done­sia, and else­where. The long time va­ri­ety in use is RRIM 600 from Malaysia. It has high latex yield but rub­ber re­cov­ery is con­sid­ered low at 20 to 30 per­cent. A va­ri­ety from In­done­sia, PB 86, has a lower latex yield than RRIM but has a higher rub­ber re­cov­ery of 35%. It usu­ally yields 1,800 ki­los of dry rub­ber per hectare. A newer va­ri­ety from In­done­sia, PB 260, has a higher yield of about 2,000 ki­los of dry rub­ber per hectare.

The CMU rub­ber project is also a source of plant­ing ma­te­ri­als for farm­ers. They pro­duce bud­ded rub­ber plant­ing ma­te­ri­als which sell for R35 apiece. Bud­ding is very easy and there is plenty of root­stocks grown from seeds of or­di­nary va­ri­eties. Aside from sell­ing bud­ded seedlings, Dr. Ruba said they also sell bud­sticks of rec­om­mended va­ri­eties to nurs­ery op­er­a­tors. A bud­stick that is a me­ter long with about 20 bud eyes sells for R25.

So there are dif­fer­ent ways of mak­ing money in the rub­ber in­dus­try. One can also spe­cial­ize in pro­duc­ing bud­ded plant­ing ma­te­ri­als of bud­sticks for sale.

Dr. Rey­mon Ruba in­stalling H288 ap­pa­ra­tus on an old rub­ber tree.

Old rub­ber tree, more than 50 years old, still yields plenty of latex, thanks to H288.

Dr. Ruba shows a rub­ber sheet called creepe.

Dr. Ruba and Jeremias Si­lao, farm man­ager of the CMU Rub­ber plan­ta­tion, in their col­lec­tion of rub­ber va­ri­eties.

Dr. Ruba (left) show­ing Zetryl Chem’s Bien Mag­calas a rub­ber creepe in stor­age.

Dr. Ruba show­ing bud­sticks that are sold at R25 per me­ter to nurs­ery op­er­a­tors.

A staff of Zetryl Chem shows a canis­ter of eth­yl­ene and the ap­pa­ra­tus for stim­u­lat­ing latex flow in rub­ber trees.

Rub­ber is prop­a­gated by bud­ding.

CMU has 142 hectares of rub­ber plan­ta­tion with 39,000 trees that are pro­duc­tive.

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