Ensuring the highest standards of tapping

Whilst there has been little change to how trees are exploited over the years, 2019 has seen improvements in our tapping standards by ensuring that tappers are highly skilled through effective training and monitoring. Corrie MacColl help guarantee optimized yields, maximise the life of the tree bark and ensure the highest quality latex through implementation of tapping best practices and use of well-maintained tapping equipment. 

We achieve this through the following guidelines:

  • Opening criteria: A budded rubber tree can only be opened for tapping once 50 % of the trees attain a girth of 50cms at a height of 150cms.
  • Guideline marking: The trees which have qualified for tapping are marked with a designated template at a height of 130 cms, with a slope of 30 ° at the front channel for low level tapping below 130cms and 45° for high level tapping above 130cms.
  • Slope and direction of tapping: Latex vessels in the bark are oriented at an angle of 2 to 7° from the vertical, low left to high right. Hence a cut from the high left to low right opens maximum number of latex vessels.
  • Angle of slope: A slope of 30° has to be maintained during the course of tapping for the optimum yield from the tree. The slope has to be marked with an appropriate template annually for the best results.
  • Tapping cut: The tapping cut should have an inward slope towards the cambium, absence of which can lead to spillage and loss of production.
  • Depth of tapping: The tapping cut should not injure the cambium layer. Good tapping is with an optimum depth of 1mm – 0.5mm away from the cambium depending on the thickness of bark.
  • Wounding: Tapping standards have to be strictly maintained. Wounding will result in poor regeneration of bark, fungal infection on the tapping panel and lower production with time.
  • Bark consumption: The bark of the rubber tree is an asset in rubber plantations. Thin bark shaving of 1 to 1.5mm thickness enhances the productive years so it is very important to maintain the thickness of the bark shavings. A bark audit has to be conducted periodically to control the consumption pattern so that the life cycle of the tree is well managed. Average annual bark consumption is dependent on the frequency of tapping.
  • Time of tapping: Tapping is to be carried out during the early hours of the day before an increase in the transpiration rate. This leads to lower turgor pressure and will result in lower dripping time, ensuring a reduction in production. It is ideal to tap pre-dawn with head lights. In practice the beginning and end points of the task are changed periodically to allow comparable period of latex flow from all the trees in the designated areas.
  • Tapping task: Number of trees allotted to a tapper for a day’s tapping is known as tapping task. Task size is fixed on the basis of stand per ha and topography of land. A tapper can tap 400 to 600 trees in an average.
  • Tapping knife: A well sharpened tapping knife is essential whilst tapping. A blunt knife will result in wounding and over consumption of bark.
  • Tapping Utensils: Utensils such as collection cups and buckets, have to be clean at all times to ensure there is no bacterial contamination from unhygienic conditions.
  • PPE: A tapper must be fully equipped with all necessary personal protective equipment for basic safety in the work environment.
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