Teak Wood Farming – A Step by Step Guide
If you are planning for commercial teak plantation, you must be aware of seed rate of teakwood, the yield of teakwood, planting methods, care along with teak harvesting techniques. So why wait, let us dive into detailed farming of teak wood.
Teak wood known as the king of timber belongs to the family Verbenaceae. Its scientific name is Tectona grandis. It grows as a huge tree and yields excellent quality wood. Therefore teak wood has a higher demand in national as well as International markets. Articles made of teak wood have high durability/quality and hence with the increased consumption of teak in household and office interiors, teak has become an indispensable part of people’s lives all over the world. Normally superior teak plants are grown on a commercial scale, it is possible to earn good profits with low risk. When grown on fertile soils with irrigation and scientific management, each tree yields 10 to 15 Cu. ft wood in about 14 years. The main stem grows to a height of 25-30 ft. and attains a girth of 35-45 inches. About 400 genetically superior teak plants can be grown in one acre, by adopting a spacing of teak plants as 9 ft. by 12 ft.
Varieties of Teak wood:
Below are some of the typical varieties of Teak wood cultivation in India.
1) Nilambur (Malabar) teak 2) South and Central American teak 3) West African teak 4) Adilabad teak 5)Godhavari teak 6)Konni teak.
The climatic requirement for Teak wood production:
Teak prefers moist, warm tropical climate. It can withstand extremes of temperature, but maximum & minimum shade temperatures of 39- 44 0 c and 13 – 17 0 c respectively are the most favorable for its growth. It grows well in rainfall zone of 1200-2500 mm. Teak has been classified as a pioneer species. Hence, it requires a high light intensity for its growth and development.
Apart from rainfall and moisture, soil and light intensity, other factors such as temperature and elevation also play important roles in limiting the distribution and growth pattern of the species.
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Soil requirement for Teak wood plantation:
Teak grows best on deep, well-drained alluvial soils derived from limestone, schist, gneiss, shale (and some volcanic rocks, such as basalt. Conversely, the species performs very poorly, in terms of growth and stem forming, on dry sandy soil, shallow soil (hardpan soil or lower water table soil), acidic soil (pH < 6.0) derived from laterite or peat bog, and on compacted or waterlogged soil.
Soil pH is another factor limiting the distribution and stand development of the species. Although the range of soil pH in teak forests is wide (5.0-8.0), the optimum pH range for better growth and quality is between 6.5-7.5.
Calcium Importance in Teak wood Plants:
Teak soil is relatively fertile with high calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and organic matter (OM) contents. Several research studies indicate that teak requires relatively large amounts of calcium for its growth and development, and teak has been named as a calcareous species. The amount of calcium content in the soil is also used as an indicator of teak site quality. That is, the greater the proportion of teak to other associated species, the higher the calcium content in the forest soil.
Nursery raising of Teak wood plantation and seed rate:
Well-drained sandy loam with gently sloping terrain is suitable for preparing nurseries. Each bed is of 1.2 m (12 m size, spaced at 0.3 m to 0.6 m between beds and 0.6 m to 1.6 m between rows of beds. Each bed produces about 400-800 plantable stumps. The ground is plowed and the area of the bed is dug out to a depth of 0.3 m. Roots, stumps, and stones are removed. The clods of earth are broken fine. The soil is allowed to weather for about a month and then filled into the nursery bed with sand and organic matter. However, when temporary nurseries are established in forest areas rich in nutrients, no additional manurial inputs are necessary.
In the moist localities, the beds are raised to a height of 30 cm from ground level to prevent waterlogging. In dry zones, beds are made flush with the ground level. In very dry localities, with a mean annual rainfall of 750 mm or less, slightly sunken beds give better results.
The seed rate per standard bed of 12 m (1.2 m varies from 3 kg to 12 kg. At Nilambur in Kerala, about 5kg of seeds are commonly used.
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Teak wood sowing method:
Both broadcast sowing and line sowing or dibbling 5-10 cm apart are practiced. Line sowing or dibbling method have greater seed economy and better survival and growth. Beds normally do not need any overhead shade. Irrigation is not provided except in very dry areas. Beds are maintained free of weeds.
The spacing of Teak wood Plants:
Teak can be planted at 2m x 2m, 2.5m x 2.5m or 3m x 3m. It can also be raised along with agricultural crops at a spacing of 4m x 4m or 5m x 1m.
Land preparation and planting and care of Teak wood
The site for planting may be either plain or gently sloping with excellent drainage. Soils derived from gneisses, schists and trap are good for teak. Alluvial sites are superior for teak growth while laterite or lateritic gravel as well as clays, black cotton, sandy and gravelly soils derived from sandstone are not good for teak plantations. Ploughlands thoroughly and level it off. Mark the areas for pit digging by alignment and staking.
- Use pre-sprouted stumps or poly pots for planting.
- Dig pits of 45 cm x 45 cm x 45 cm sizes. Refill the soil after seasoning and mixing with Farm Yard Manure(FMY) and insecticides. On poor gravely sites, replace the pit soil by good soil with good organic matter.
- Apply 100 g of fertilizer in the pit at the time of planting and thereafter in split doses or as per the fertility status of the soil.
- Best planting season for Teak wood farming is monsoon; preferably after the first shower.
- Carry out soil working periodically for better growth of plants. One working in the Ist year and two workings in 2nd and 3rd year may be adequate.
- Firm up the soil after planting and apply irrigation/water supply wherever necessary.
- Debudding in the initial years may be done to improve the quality of timber.
Weed control in Teak wood Plantation:
Teak is a light-demanding species and its growth and development are reduced sharply under poor light conditions. Hence, intensive weeding is very necessary during the early establishment of the plantation, i.e. 1-3 years. Carry out weeding operations on a regular basis. Weeding may be carried out at 3 operations in the first year, 2 operations in the second year and one operation in the third year.
Irrigation requirement for Teak wood plantation:
Irrigation during the stress period boosts the growth of the plants. In the farming of teak wood, irrigation should be followed by weeding (3,2,1) and adequate soil working. Two doses of fertilizer (in the month of August & September) @ 50 gm per plant of NPK (15:15:15) may be provided every year up to three years. By increasing the inputs of irrigation and frequent thinning, it is possible to increase the rate of diameter growth. The increase in diameter growth is, however, dependent on increasing the size of the crown i.e. the decrease in the number of trees per acre. In other words, one can have either lesser no. of trees of higher girth or larger number of trees of lower girth. It has been observed that teak trees grown under irrigated condition grew faster but the sapwood content of trees increased, the wood became weak and wind damage became quite serious. A phenomenon of water blisters may also develop in teak trees grown under irrigated conditions. Such trees may appear quite healthy from outside but the inner heartwood may develop rot due to the storage of excess water that increases the spread of fungi which may further damage the tree.
You may be interested in reading the Teak Wood Farming Project Report.
The Teak plants grow best when the minimum monthly temperature is above 13°C and the maximum monthly temperature is below 40°C. Optimal rainfall for teak ranges between 1 250 and 3 750 mm per year; however, for the production of good-quality timber the species requires a dry season of at least four months with less than 60 mm precipitation. The spacing of trees and the number, timing and intensity of thinnings strongly affect the pattern of growth and the yield of the plantation. If thinning is practiced late, growth rates decline or cease, whereas if the stand is thinned too early or too heavily
Thinning of Teak wood plants:
The first thinning is conducted in Teak plantation at 5-10 years after planting of teak, depending on site quality and the size of initial spacing. Generally, under good site and close spacing (1.8×1.8 m and 2×2 m), the first and second thinning (mechanical thinnings) are conducted at 5 and 10 years respectively. About 25% of the trees are left for further growth and development after the second thinning.
Intercropping in Teak wood Plantation:
Intercropping in teak plantations during the initial two years of planting is a common practice where there is a demand for cultivatable land. Once the plantation area is leased out, the cleaning of the site, burning, staking and planting are done by the leaseholders. The common intercrops are paddy, chillies, maize, wheat, sesame, and various vegetables. Crops such as sugarcane, wet rice, plantain, jute, cotton, or creeping vegetables such as pumpkin and cucumber are not allowed.
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Pests and Diseases of Teak plants:
Teak defoliator & skeletonizer (Hyblaea puera and Eutectona machaeralis) cause extensive damage to young teak plantations in Teak wood farming business. Root rot due to Polyporous zonalis is also common in the teak plantation. Pink disease fungus causes cankers and bark flaking. Powdery mildew caused by Olivea tectonae & Uncinula tectonae leads to premature defoliation. It is thus necessary to undertake prophylactic and control measures to ensure good health of the crops. Fresh leaf extracts of Calotropis procera, Datura metal, and Azadirachta indica were found to be most effective against teak skeletonizer. This method is of immense importance in the insect, pest control considering its harmless and pollution free implications on the environment further avoiding the operational and residual hazards that involve in the use of organic and inorganic insecticides.
Note: Please contact nearest agriculture department for technical evaluation of current pests, diseases and their control in Teak wood Farming.
Harvesting techniques of Teak wood:
When it comes to harvesting of Teak plants, there certain things to follow for approval of teak harvesting:
- Mark the trees to be cut and run serial number.
- Submit the report to the chief of the regional forestry office.
- Regional Forestry Office then sends an official to check the accuracy of
the report by sampling.
- Send the report to the Local Forestry Department with an explanation of why Thinning/Harvesting Operation needs to be done.
- Thinning/Harvesting operation starts after the permission has been granted.
The yield of Teak plantation:
Each Teak tree yields 10 to15 Cu. ft wood in about 14 years. The main stem grows to a height of 25-30 ft. and attains a girth of 35-45 inches. About 400 genetically superior teak plants can be grown in one acre, by adopting a spacing of teak plants as 9 ft. by 12 ft.
Marketing of Teak wood:
It’s easy to market, there are many buyback programs as well as local timber depots.
Some facts about teakwood/Sagwan plantation:
- Usually, the teak wood plant takes 22 to 25 years to grow into a fully matured stage or final harvesting stage.
- A teak plantation is definitely a profitable crop in India and all over the world as there is a huge demand for teakwood.
- You can accommodate 500 teak plants in one acre. you can expect 10 to 15 cubic feet wood from one teak tree.
- You can grow teak plants from seeds and nursery raised transplants.
- It is better to soak the teak plant seeds for 12 hours and dry them for 12 hours for better germination.
- It takes 2 weeks to germinate the teak seeds and to see the teak plant seedlings.
Teak wood Farming is highly profitable farming due to its demand in the current domestic and international market.
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