- Notes on Rubber Growing in Perak
The first seed of the Para rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) was introduced into Perak in the year 1882 by Sir Hugh Low, the then British Resident. It was sent to me to plant, but did not germinate, having been kept too long after picking. A second lot was received a short time after and was planted at Kuala Kangsar; so that the larger trees there are now about 14 years old.
In 1887 some seed was obtained from the Kuala Kangsar trees and planted in the Museum grounds, Taiping. The soil is very bad, the land having all been mined over, but still the trees have grown well and have attained, in the ten years which have elapsed since they were planted, a considerable size.
Finding that they grew so well I ventured, in 1891, to write to Sir F. A. Swettenham, the then British Resident of Perak, suggesting that they should be planted on waste lands, and, as a result, Mr. O. Marks, then Superintendent, Government Plantations, put out a number of trees at Kuala Kangsar, which are now about six years old and are doing very well. It is much to be regretted that more were not planted at that time, as by now they would be valuable, not only as rubber but as seed producers.
The tree has also been planted at Parit Buntar, where it grows well. It is in the garden of the District Magistrate and close to the river. The land is occasionally flooded by the river, and in the ordinary way at high tide the river is only a foot or two below the level of the surface of the ground. The river is quite salt enough for the nipah palm to grow well on its banks.
It has been planted at Sitiawan, also on low land near the sea; at Tapah, Batu Gajah in Kinta and other places in the State, and in all it has grown well.
It may therefore be stated that it will thrive in any locality, from the bakau swamps to the foot-hills, and on any soil, from rich alluvial to old mine heaps.
So far I have not noticed that it has any enemies which do it serious injury. When large areas come to be planted up there may arise trouble with some pest, but at present there does not appear to be any indication of such a contingency.
Hitherto the trees have been planted singly, and, as might be expected, they have grown with short trunks and bushy tops. To be a success – that is, to yield large quantities of rubber – the tree must be planted so that it will run up and form a tall, straight, branchless trunk.
There is little to guide one on the subject, but from 15 to 20 feet apart would appear to be about the correct spacing. At 20 feet it might be necessary to plant [End Page 91] something in between to keep them from early branching, but this would not be necessary at 15 feet. In Larut, at an estate at Kampong Dew, they are being planted at 10 by 10 feet, that is 544 per acre. It is very close, but it is the intention, I am informed by Mr. Waddell Boyd, the manager, to thin them out later on to 20 by 20 feet or 108 per acre, tapping the intermediate trees – that is, those which are ultimately to be thinned out – as early as possible and as severely as they will stand, while the others are allowed to grow to a large size before tapping.
With a view to giving some data respecting the growth of the trees, I have measured some of those in the Museum grounds. These trees, it is to be remembered, are 10 years old and are planted on mined land of the poorest quality.
|Total height||Girth of trunk at 3 feet|