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OK Thx for that. There is no immediate rush, the pocket rocket has now decided that she wants to go into small time pig farming here in Ranong. I just hope it's down wind. :o Her sister a few hundred yds away is now into it and has their house down wind :D

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I have read on one of the links that the price of rubber has dropped from its high of 103 baht a kilo to 57!.

The Rubber Plantation farmers are not happy.

My Wifeis from the South and she is always getting calls from her Brothers saying that there is land available at very good prices, I have been tempted but never brought.

This thread has been extremely enlightening and many thanks to all those that have contributed.

I think if I was going to invest now, I would probably go for Palm.

Anyone agree/disagree?

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ThaiPauly

This thing of Oil Palm or rubber has been going on for many years. I think in the future you will do well with either. Rubber prices are down a bit now and I am sure they will go up. The demand in India and China is just too great. Oil palm is bound to go up as Thailand hasn't really got its act together with biodiesel and that has to come pretty quick, and as well oil palm has a million prime uses. I would suggest that you let the site dictate what you grow. Very steep areas make harvesting oil palm difficult. Oil palm needs better soil and water supply than rubber. The first few years oil palm needs a good dose of fertilizer. I sure there are many reasons for chosing. Oil palm gives a quicker return on investment. Four years versus seven.

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There has been a huge gov't investment in palm oil and a new biodiesel plant in the Krabi area.

____________

The bio-diesel plant in Krabi is now producing 10,000 liters of bio-diesel from oil palm per day for tourism business operators and fishing trawlers.

Krabi governor Sonthi Techanan (สนธิ เตชานันท์) said the plant, set up with a budget of 18.5 million baht, will further increase its production capacity to 100,000 liters per day.

The bio-diesel plant was built to promote the use of alternative fuel to help save business costs as initiated by His Majesty the King, Mr. Sonthi said.

Source: Thaisnews.com

Edited by udon
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Going down the main Highway though Surat there used to be acre upon acre of rice. Almost as far as the rice can see. Earlier on this year I saw that all of this was been turned over to Palm Oil.

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It is unfortunate that a lot of people doing the conversion don't really know the difference. There is a lot of oil palm put into rice fields that are growing at about 50% of what it should. The government doesn't seem to be helping a lot with the transition.

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^Timber,

Just curious for an opinion,

My wife's oil palm crop is planted on old rice land in what was once a low and flood prone area south of Nakhon Si Thammarat city toward the coast. You may be aware of the large project started by the King in the area to better drain the area (Chiang Yai).

Anyway, the area is dry most of the year now and the tree's are looking fine 1 year on. We've adding A LOT of drainage cannals to the land to help the water along when it rains too much - nothing is high and dry either.

Have you seen similar approaches in other areas? I'm out of Thailand most of the time and cannot compare. Oil Palm is a recent development in that area and there are no mature plantations to compare it to.

What general problems have you noticed in plantations that are on old rice farms? You mentioned in your last post that you think yeild could be 50% higher in a lot of them. Thanks.

Edited by Azul_Blanco
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Hi good to here from you.

Hmmm... Several problems.

1. Not enought fertilizer. They don't seem to realize how hungry oil palm is. The rice has depleted the soil and need to add something. Oil palm is a hungry devil at the best of times. See lots of oil palm in big fields with off green colors.

2. I think you need to establish drainage that you have some control over. Oil palm can stand some flooding but not an awful lot. In some cases there has been no drainage established and the high water table which is to be expected is holding the oil palm back.

3. Where drainage ditches have been established, let's say six feet deep or so, when they hit the dry part of the year there is no watering down. They can see lots of water. but it isn't really available to the plants. I think an excellent opportunity for a drip system. Can water and fertilize all the time. I think it is like learning English, better to have a little bit often and a whole bunch once in a while.

4. My wife isn't really into these things so having some problems with communication, but I think if you are going to put an investment into the land part of that investment should be to find out what you have got. Soil tests to find out what you should be adding to suppliment what is already there.

5. There should be lots of oil palm specialists down south, between Surat Thani and Krabi. In North America you have extensionists that work the field helping farmers and ranchers with their problem and providing up to date information. They people there might enjoy the odd trip into the field to see what you have and what you intend to do with it.

Just some opinions. Not right all the time, right some of the time.

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Thanks for the input.

We had the soil tests done before planting and have been maintaining fertilizer according to the tests. The land was briefly used for rice but was just left sitting for almost a decade before the palm crop was planted. The soil was in reasonably good shape. The trees are looking good now but are only 1 year old and not producing fruit bunches yet. I was a bit worried that the water level was so near the soil surface but so far so good!

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I think the fruit starts coming about 3.5 to 4.5 years and increases as time goes by. I have read a lot of stuff about what you should do when the both the male and female fruit starts coming, but would like to have someone with some experience take a look at the plantation and give me some advice on what they think. Big thing as you say they look good.

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A nice little summary on rubber from Encarta Encyclopedia

To gather the latex from plantation trees, a diagonal cut angled downward is made through the bark; this cut extends one-third to one-half of the circumference of the trunk. The latex exudes from the cut and is collected in a small cup. The amount of latex obtained on each tapping is about 30 ml (about 1 fl oz). Thereafter, a thin strip of bark is shaved from the bottom of the original cut to retap the tree, usually every other day. When the cuttings reach the ground, the bark is permitted to renew itself before a new tapping panel is started. About 250 trees are planted per hectare (100 per acre), and the annual yield for ordinary trees is about 450 kg per hectare (400 lb per acre) of dry crude rubber. In specially selected high-yield trees, the annual yield may range as high as 2225 kg per hectare (2000 lb per acre), and experimental trees that yield 3335 kg per hectare (3000 lb per acre) have been developed. The gathered latex is strained, diluted with water, and treated with acid to cause the suspended rubber particles within the latex to clump together. After being pressed between rollers to consolidate the rubber into 0.6-cm (0.25-in) slabs or thin crepe sheets, the rubber is air- or smoke-dried for shipment.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just some comments for information. I just came back from the inlaws. They live in the south. One was harvesting 17 mats per night on 7 rai and the other harvested 48 mats on 15 rai. It goes up and down a bit. They are getting about 3 kg/rai per night. They lose about 50 days a year for leaf fall and I couldn't find out how much downtime they have for rain. Would be nice if you have some comments for the database. Pretty hard to get records that aren't there.

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Great thread, lots of inof and sites to visit.

I may have missed it, found the rubber facts and figures, but does anyone know the palm oil figures per rai ? Interested to see the returns from palm oil, as I do not really consider the rubber tree returns really worth it, but thats just me.

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I have a 27 hectars agarwood plantation in Cambodia. The plantation consists of 67,500 trees. Can anyone direct me to an agent that buys agarwood trees and resin from Cambodia. I have a buyer from the middle-east who wants to buy the trees, but he wants to include the land with the price for the trees. I don't want to loose my land. I just want to sell my trees. I think he knows that because I don't know the agarwood market, he can do whatever he wants. I would appreciated if anybody can direct me to a buyer or the agarwood trading company to see my trees. Please contact me at: [email protected]

If I got my figures correct, you are planting a tree every 4 sqm...is this correct, seems very close.

They also quote 10,000b per tree. So this equates to over 18 million DOLLARS for your plantation in 6 years ??? or 3 million per year for the six years you have to wait.....or 53,000 baht per rai per month income.

Me's thinks something fishy in cambodia.

What do you think your chances are of processing this in Cambodia with all your body parts still intact ?

Edited by Nawtilus
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Isn't anyone going to mention that rubber trees are highly toxic and that no animals or birds live in rubber plantations? Thanks to the rubber industry, lowland jungles across the planet have been cut down to make plantations.

Don't any of you well-wishers care at all about the environment? geez...

I do not believe anyone in here was commenting on chopping down virgin rainforest or even deflowered rainforest for a rubber plantation.

Now if this forest had huge stands of teak in it....maybe....

Edited by Nawtilus
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Nawtilus

Below is an interesting extract from a site by Purdue University. The site is a bit dated in places but gives a good overview, in a usable manner, of tropical agriculture.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/tropical/

Yield

The oil palm is extremely responsive to encironmental conditions and yields therefore show great variation. The course of yield over time, however, shows a clear trend, rising to a maximum in the first few years (6-8 years after planting in the field), usually declining slowly thereafter. In well managed plantations in Malaysia and Sumatra, on soils with a reasonable availability of nutrients and a good water-holding capacity under uniform and adequate rainfall, yields of bunches of 24-32 t/ha are common. At the factory, extraction rates of oil with reference to bunch weight are 20-22%; this represents oil yields of 4.8-7 t/ha, which is higher than in any other oil crop.

If you use history to predict the future for oil palm and rubber, you will find that each has good times and bad times. Taking advantage of opportunity with a little common sense plays a large part.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I would give an update to my wife's rubber tree situation. As I stated in an earlier post in this thread, she bought 17 rai with mature rubber trees for 35,000 baht/rai. She claims that the yields from this land were lower than average and that she suspects that the previous owner used some sort of gas on the trees to caused them to produce more rubber before the owner went ahead and sold the land to her. Because nobody could cut the rubber now during this rainy season, she asked her family to try to sell the land.

The 17 rai has been sold to someone that knows about the low rubber production. I assume they plan on chopping down the trees, selling them, then planting something else in their place. They bought the land for 50,000 baht/rai.

My wife still has 10 rai with trees that are about 5 years old as well as another 6 rai that also will be ready to cut soon. Once these trees start producing, I'll try to let everyone know what kind of production she is getting from them.

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I wonder what they used on the rubber trees. Following is a quote from Purdue University lecture.

"It has even been found that very light applications of 2,4-D or such growth regulators as ethephon just below the tapping cut can increase the yield as much as 30% without damaging the tree."

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Hi Timber,

Since you advised me to first have the soil of our lan tested before going into planting rubber tree, we haven't made a lot of progress (lack of time).

Very recently, my wife asked a local guy (somebody working for the goverment and helping farmers who want to develop such projects) to have a look to her land and to tell her if it is suitable for rubber trees (location, drainage,...).

According to him the land is good and the water supply should not be a problem. Nevertheless, as it is located in the middle of flat fields with nothing elevated which could somehow protect the trees from the wind, he said that it could a problem and that the rubber tapping could quickly run dry.

What do you think about it ? Are these trees so sensitive that one really needs to carefully select the plot of land according to its location and main wind direction ?

Thank you for your help :o

Bud

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Bud,

I'm the first to admit that I don't know all there is to know about rubber, and maybe some that do don't. I am a forester from the west coast of Canada so don't know a lot about tropical trees. I don't really see the relationship between wind and flat ground. There might be a problem with drainage, but I don't know the ground. Where bouts are you Bud? What area are you located. Wind can be a problem if you don't have enough moisture as it may elevate the transpiration rate and lower the humidity, but you said you had enough moisture. Not telling you what to do, but should check out drip irrigation as it keeps the trees moist, but not wet and easy to fertilize. You have an investment and proper moisture and fertlizer to the trees may significally increase the return.

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Timber,

I’m an engineer from Belgium and I have never been involved in any farming activities. So please, be sure that I’m very happy to find some nice guy like you ready to share their experience and to provide some valuable advices. Thank you for this.

Regarding the land, we have 3 main plots located at about 50 kms of Roi-Et.

Each of them are currently rice fields and indeed we will certainly need to make some investments in order to rearrange the land (make it flat and may be improve the drainage), to apply adequate fertilizer (to be determined after soil check) and probably to dig some wells allowing to ensure that a proper moisture will be maintained. I don’t know yet how much all this will cost, but I’ll certainly try to figure it out before really going any further.

As I said in my previous post, I’m slightly bothered about this possible concern regarding the wind. There is indeed no elevated obstacle anywhere around and it seems, according to the guy who checked our land, that the wind could quickly affect the tapping itself. He said that during windy period the rubber will dry on the trunk instead of leaking along the tapping. Still according to him, it should be better to look for some other lands located somewhere along a forest.

If we consider that he is right, do you think that installing a drip irrigation system could be helpful?

I heard that in south of France, farmers are sometimes planting a hedge of bamboos around their fields in order to protect them from the wind. If the wind is really an issue, do you think that it could help?

If anybody else has ever heard something about this possible wind issue, please do not hesitate to post your advices.

Thank you.

Bud

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Thanks Bud

for the information. It puts it more into perspective. I am talking mostly about the south which is a lot more productive, but maybe less so if you have a drip system. You should make sure it is applicable for your situation with a proper return on investment. I still am not too sure about the drying out of the rubber on the tree. There are others in Issan that grow rubber. I would think on the flats facing the wind would be less than a hillside facing the wind for. He might have a point if the area is open. I keep forgetting there are areas in this world without mountains and forests. Since you are on the flats, find out where the main wind flow comes from and plant something like the tea intercrop that I mentioned in the preceeding post to serve as a wind buffer for about twenty to fifty meters. You could plant bamboo if that seems to be the best crop. There are a lot of things you can plant on the peremeter to cut down the wind. I don't know the topography to sense whether there would be a problem with wind shears. There is a farming forum that caters more to the Roi Et people in the General section of the main forum. I am sure some of the people there have planted rubber in the open. I post material here as I want to keep this forum alive until I move south and also talk to people I can meet. I would suggest that you try to contact people in your area, there are some in the farming forum, to see if rubber is the best crop. There are certainly less headaches. Review what you want to do.

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My husband's cousin is growing rubber trees here on Koh Phangan, they seem to be doing quite well, but then our humidity is always quite high.

How difficult is it to make the rubber "sheets" and do you think the need for transporting it to the mainland would reduce the profit?

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Making the latex sheets isn't hard if you have the right equipment. Some pans and a roller and chemicals. It is just labour intensive. Surely you can find someone to observe. The processed sheets are then dried and hauled to a buyer. Just stack them in back of a pickup and haul. There should be buyers in ST. The whole process require some skill and knowledge and shouldn't be a problem to do it yourself if in reasonable shape, but is fairly labor intensive and that is why a lot of people subcontract it for 40 - 50% Always be aware that someone is itching to steal your rubber and equipment.

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