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Published: November 24th 2016
While we were in Kerala, we passed by many rubber trees and noticed the strange little collection cups and plastic wraps around the mature rubber trees. We decided we needed to learn more about the process of collecting and making rubber.
Our time near the hill station of Vagamon proved the perfect time to do just that. We hired a guide from Vanilla County and took off for a local rubber tree plantation.
We learned about rubber and may never look at the finished product the same way.
The collection and production of rubber is extensive and labor intensive.
It takes a rubber tree 7 years to mature, so the trees must be planted and then must grow for 7 years before they can provide any sort of profit.
Once the tree matures, one side of the tree is cut to gather the rubber and then the other side of the tree. Harvesting means that one side will be cut for 10 years and then harvest will begin on the other side of the tree for 10 years.
Then, when the tree is 27 years old, it will be cut down and another tree planted.
At this time, the wait for 7 years to maturity will resume.
The collected rubber goes through a tedious process of being mixed with latex, sitting until the mixture is the proper texture and enduring several rounds of going through two different presses to remove excess water.
Once all of these steps are complete, there is a small sheet of rubber available for the plantation owner to sell.
Makes me tired just thinking about it.
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