A step by step guide for Red Sandalwood plantation
Red Sandalwood tree is a native and endemic to India and can only be found in the southern parts of the Eastern Ghats. Different names of Red sandalwood is Almug, Saunderwood, Red Sanders, Red Sanderswood, Red Saunders, Rakta Chandana (Indian), Lal Chandan, Ragat Chandan, Rukhto Chandan. The scientific name of Red Sandalwood tree is Pterocarpus Santalinus.
Red Sandalwood tree:
Let us discuss some information about Red Sandalwood tree;
- Red Sandalwood is a small tree that grows to 5-8 meters in height and has dark grayish bark. The timber is highly demanded domestically and internationally, and particularly in East Asian countries.
- Generally, Red Sandalwood timber is mainly used for carvings, furniture, poles, and house posts. The rare “wavy” grain variant is highly valued in Japan for its acoustic properties and is mostly used to make musical instruments. Also, the timber is exploited for the extraction of santalin (a red pigment used as dye and colorant in food), medicine and cosmetics.
- Red Sandalwood is valued for the rich red color of its wood. The tree wood is not aromatic. The tree is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that develop natively in South India.
- Red Sandalwood is a tree and the wood at the center of the trunk (heartwood) is used as medicine. The uses of Red Sandalwood is mainly for treating digestive tract problems, fluid retention, and coughs and for “blood purification”. Indians have been long deprived of this precious cash crop known as “Red Sandalwood”. This wild tree yields crores of rupees but needs least human care for its growth. India is one among the only six countries and it is mainly found only in South India.
- It is a high demanding small tree growing to 9 meters tall with a trunk 150 to 175 cm diameter. It is fast-growing when young, reaching 6m tall in 3 years even on degraded soils. It is not frosted tolerant. The leaves are alternate, 3 to 9 cm long, trifoliate with three leaflets. The flowers are formed in short racemes. The fruit is a pod 6 to 9 cm long containing one or two seeds.
- The Red Sandalwood has been historically valued in China who introduced classical Chinese furniture to the west. It has been one of the mainly prized woods for millennia.
- Red sandal is very popular and costly Timber. The wood is famous for its aroma and growth. Red Sandalwood can be grown anywhere in India, can be planted in 10 x 10 feet spacing which yields 500 Kg’s by 10 years of Red sandalwood for each tree.
- The Red Sandalwood is of high demand in China, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, USA, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, and Gulf countries.
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Red Sandalwood plantation requirements:
- Well-drained red soils with graveled loam are mainly suitable for the cultivation of Red Sander Trees. It regenerates well in a dry hot climate and requires rainfall ranging from 800 mm to 1000 mm annually for excellent growth.
- Red Sandalwood developed on the shale subsoils, at altitudes around 750 meters (2,460 ft), and in semi-arid climatic conditions gives a distinctive wavy grain margin.
- Red Sandalwood is a light-requesting moderate measured tree developing up to 10 m tall with a trunk 50 to 150 cm breadth. It is fast-growing when young achieving 5 m tall in three years even on debased soils. It is not frosted tolerant, being murdered by temperatures of -1°C yet stays well at semi-bone-dry climatic conditions. Red Sandalwood grows well in red soils on high altitudes of the Eastern Ghats in Kadapa, Kurnool, Chittoor and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh, South India.
- Choose a planting site with a blend of loam and sand that drains well and dig a hole about a foot deep and fill it with water. If the liquid disappears underground within 24 hours, the area offers sufficient drainage. Raise the Red Sandalwood trees in a weed-free environment their first two years to allow them to fully develop without having to compete for nutrients.
- The planting land is plowed and harrowed repeatedly and the soil is brought to a fine tilth. The pits of size 45 cm × 45 cm × 45 cm are dug at a spacing of 4 m × 4 m. The pits are filled with topsoil mixed thoroughly with 10–15 kg farm-yard manure (FYM) and 10 g linden dust to protect the planting stock from soil-borne fungi.
- The best time for planting for Red Sandalwood is the end of May to June that is the onset of the rainy season. Normally, the stump-raised seedlings or stumps obtained from two-year-old nursery plants are transplanted. A Red Sandalwood plant population of about 600 per hectare is recommended with a spacing of 4 m × 4 m. These can be planted near the boundaries farmhouses, farmlands, and gardens.
- The Red Sandalwood plants are irrigated immediately after transplantation. After that, irrigation is done on alternate days up to 15 days. After the seedlings get established, irrigation can be done at an interval of 10–15 days, depending on the weather conditions.
- Leaf-eating caterpillars have been found to damage the crop from April to May. These could be controlled by spraying 0.2% Monocrotophos twice at weekly intervals.
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Varieties of Red Sandalwood:
In nature, two types of Red Sandalwood trees are observed they are wavy grained and straight. The wavy grained wood is more in demand in trade and is chosen for commercial plantation. No commercially released varieties are obtainable.
The Red Sandalwood is an endangered species which is found only in four districts of Andhra Pradesh naturally. It is a unique and rare form of wood, which can be expressed as the pride of India. The growth of this Red Sandalwood tree species in extremely slow and it takes some decades to gain the right thickness. This is a deep red-colored wood. Red Sandalwood doesn’t lose its shape or uniformity even under harsh temperatures and humid conditions.
One ton of the wood is believed to fetch anywhere between Rs 20 to 40 lakh Rupees in the international market. Red Sandalwood and the products made from this wood is in huge demand especially in countries such as China and Japan, where it is used for making musical instruments, furniture, sculptures, etc. Andhra Pradesh has some of the most extensive forest areas which are home to thousands of Red Sandalwood plantations. The Handicraft items which are prepared from Red Sandalwood are always in great demand. The major reasons for its popularity are the antiquity of the material as well as the traditional designs that are finely and particularly engraved on them.
Red sandalwood plantation in 1 Acre of field and expected profit:
Plant size: 1 ft and above
Number of plants for one acre – 435 Plants/Acre
In one Acre of land, a total number of plants will be around 435 plants planted at the distance of 10 x 10 ft. The farmer can earn a profit of about 2.4 crores in 14 to 15 years. The yield of red sandalwood depends on the variety, soil type, climate, water facility, and cultivation practices.
Note: Red sandalwood plantation is NOT allowed in many places in India, please talk to local forest department or horticulture department for any licensing or other requirements. Unless you get permission from the forest department, don’t venture into this.
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