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Latex Production by lindahy


Latex Production

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Industry Background: Malaysian Rubber Board
Courtesy Therapeutic Pillow Company

Latex is the milky sap of the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. Our natural
rubber is produced in Malaysia, where trees are tapped for latex by
cutting a spiral groove in the bark and placing a spout and collection cup
at the base.

One week of daily harvesting from 30 rubber trees produces enough latex for just one pillow!

Latex industry started in Malaysia when 9 plants were brought in from Brazil.

Malaysian Rubber Board is backed by 80 years of R&D (established in 1925).

One of the areas of research is in the production of new clones for rubber trees. Clones are
grown for 15 years in different areas before they are used for buds.

Latex production has been declining in Malaysia recently and is now 1.3 million hectares. Now
80% small farmers with average of 2.5 hectares each farm.

Life span of trees

                                           Trees have a life span of 25-30 years.

                                           After 25 years of latex extraction the
                                           trunk of the tree is used for furniture
                                           production and the branches are used
                                           for fibre board.

The tree trunk provides a medium density wood which is kiln dried.

Rubber tree is deciduous loosing all its leaves in January during a hot dry spell. With the new
leaves come the flowers then the fruit. The green fruit slowly turns brown and on a hot afternoon
between Jul and Sept you can hear the cracking sound as the seed explodes from the fruit. This
time is known as “Seed Fall”.

Because seeds rapidly loose their viability if exposed to sun and rain the seeds are collected and
put into a cold store or into a germination bed.

Seed germination takes 7-10 days
Moved to polybag
Green bud graft at 600mm.
The seed provides the root stock and the graft provides the tree.
Green buds for grafting come from bush nursery).
                                       When seedling is 3 months old using the standard grafting
                                       technique a small patch is removed from the seedling and a
                                       green bud is grafted on and bandaged.

                                       The graft is left for 1month if the graft is successful the
                                       patch is green. The polythene bandage is removed and the
                                       tree is cut back.

The seedling remains in the nursery for 2 stages of leaf
And then planted out (about 6 months).

Planting rate 400 trees per hectare.

Latex extraction
Starts when the tree is 4-5 years (when it is 45cm in circumference).
Tapping panel is a half spiral, starting about 150cm from the ground (about the height of the
Each incision is 1-2mm

                                        Change sides of tree every 5 years. 25 year extraction
                                        cycle is:

                                  1.    Cut down from left to right –   Front (5 years)
                                  2.    Cut down from left to right –   Back (5 years)
                                  3.    Cut down from left to right –   Front (5 years)
                                  4.    Cut down from left to right –   Back (5 years)
                                  5.    Upward tapping – (5 years)

Tapping is done early in the morning as long as it’s not raining or the trees
are not wet. Maybe 100 out of 365 days a year. A tapper taps 500 trees in
about 3-3 ½ hours has a break and then collects the latex after 4-5 hours
after tapping. After 4-5 hours the latex vessels become blocked and the latex
coagulates leaving a white strip of latex on the tree. This is known as “Tree

                                       Latex vessels run down from right to left and tapping is
                                       down from left to right to maximise production which is
                                       usually about ½ cup of latex which is 30-35% rubber and
                                       the rest is water. Trees produce their best yields in the first
                                       5 years.

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