Thursday, March 22, 2012

'Wavy grain' - The smugglers choice !

Some snippets from IFGTB 'Tree Growers Mela -2012:
Part - 4
Red Sanders – Way to identify a tree with wavy grained wood without cutting the tree:

In recent years, a variant of Red sanders species which has wavy-grained wood has leapt into sudden prominence because it is highly valued in the export market. Wood pieces with the wavy grain margin are graded as "A" grade and fetch a higher price than the non-wavy wood.
Trees with this variant character are rare in nature and they seem to show no apparent morphological differences to differentiate them from the normal-grained trees. Matters have become worse lately with illegal fellers and smugglers felling non-wavy grained timber for making wood chips and wavy grained timber for logs of size 90 cm girth and 3 to 5 feet which are later stuffed with other export goods for illegal export out of country. See the kink:The Hindu.

This secret to identify a tree with wavy grain wood without cutting the tree is the most intriguing problem for the scientists throughout the world.

Dr.Parthiban, an enterprising scientist of FC&RI, Mettupalayam, Tamilnadu approached this problem in a novel way by approaching the illegal feller himself and came to know that trees with wavy grain wood will be easily identified from their seeds which carry a characteristic feature (not revealed in this blog for the safety of this endangered tree) that can not be seen in the seeds of trees with non-wavy grained wood. The secret has been revealed at last at the ‘Tree Growers Mela – 2012 held at IFGTB, Coimbatore.

P. santalinus grows as a wild plant in Cuddapah and Kurnool districts in Andhra Pradesh and Arcot and Chingelpet districts in Tamil Nadu up to 500 m.

The name Santalinus refers to its name of red Sandalwood, which all its Indian titles signify, though it bears no relationship to Santalum. This wood was primarily a dye-styff in India, where it was mixed with sapan wood, for dyeing silk, cotton and wool.

Though there is no domestic market in India, plantations have been formed for its cultivation in Southern India, where it is very rare.

CAUTION 1: It is now declared as endangered because its natural habitat is constantly subjected to human pressure. Cutting of trees in natural forests and in protected areas is totally prohibited. The legal trade in INDIA is limited to occasional auction sale of confiscated timber by Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh Governments.

Cost of seedling: Seedlings are available @ Rs.8-10 per plant at almost all Govt and private nurseries.

CAUTION 2: The natural habitat of P. santalinus is hilly regions with hot dry climate. It is a strong light demander and does not tolerate overhead shade. It cannot withstand water-logged conditions. If planted in problematic soils and in soils with more clay content the plant will get stunted and there will not be any heart wood formation. In that case this high value crop will not fetch price of even fire wood.

Yield estimate: At a spacing of 15’ X 15’ roughly around 500 trees can be planted in a hectare and after 25 years minimum 250 to 500kg of heartwood/tree can be obtained. Thus one can expect 1,25,000 to 2,50,000 kg of wood from one hectare plantation. (This yield estimate is disputable and there is drastic variation in yield from place to place).

At an average market rate of Rs.150/kg an income of Rs.185 Lakhs to Rs.375 lakhs/ha is expected. (The current purchase price by the smugglers is several times more than what is given here). See the link: The Times of India.

CAUTION 3: The species is covered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) which forbids international trade of endangered timber as logs, but recent seizures in India, Nepal and in Southeast Asia suggest increasingly quantities are being smuggled.

 Red Sanders as fence along with Gliricidia in my farm.

Red sanders - Bark pattern.

(1) Natural Product Radiance, Vol.3, Mar–April 2004, pp. 83 - 84.
(2) jawaharlal.overblog
(4) and from other web sources.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Casuarina - Species variation in wind hardiness.

Some snippets from IFGTB 'Tree Growers Mela -2012:
Part - 3
The total destruction of Casuarina plantations in Cuddalur, Pondicherry areas by cyclone 'Thane' has left many farmers to wonder whether any University or Research institute will come up with a Casuarina variety that could withstand this kind of violent on-slaught.

A Casuarina plantation before "Cyclone Thane":

After "Cyclone Thane":

Dr.Nicodemus of IFGTB, an eminent scientist has an answer to this problem. At the 'Thane' affected fields he noticed a particular Casuarina junghuhniana variety supplied by the IFGTB withstood the cyclone effectively. This variety because of its remarkable wind hardiness is selected by him for future development and multiplication.
The clones in the left half of the picture below exhibits
the character of better wind hardiness:

The selected variety stands tall even after the 'Thane' aftermath:

Those interested to purchase this variety can contact Dr.Nicodemus at IFGTB, Coimbatore.

A.Vishnu Sankar

Casuarina as windbreaker

Some snippets from IFGTB 'Tree Growers Mela -2012:
Part - 2

In our country, wind damage to crops is a perennial problem and loss to the farmers who never insures his crop is running into crores. One of the simple solutions recommended by experts is to grow trees in farm boundaries as wind breakers.

The usual practice adopted by farmers is to plant Casuarina trees in one or more rows in zig-zag fashion. The clones we get from the nurseries are designed to grow tall with minimum side branches. These clone types are not suitable for planting for the purpose of 'Wind breaker'.

In order to solve the above problem
Dr.Bhuvaneswaran of IFGTB has come up with a new variety in Casuarina junghuhniana which produces more side branches to effectively reduce the wind force when planted as wind breaker. Some pictures from his Ppt presentation titled "Phenotypes for Windbreak Agroforestry System" is published here under:
An innovative concept of selecting a tree because of its special architecture within the species to suit our end use. Congrats to Dr.Bhuvaneswaran on behalf of the farming community for his efforts.

A.Vishnu Sankar.

Book on Gmelina arborea (KUMIL) Tamil edition.

Some snippets from IFGTB 'Tree Growers Mela -2012:
Part - 1
I would like to bring to our readers some interesting and useful information from the "Tree Growers Mela" organized by The Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore on 23rd and 24th February, 2012. (Part - 1)

Book on Gmelina arborea (KUMIL) Tamil edition:
A book on Gmelina arborea (Tamil edition) has been released by IFGTB. English edition is under preparation and will be published soon. This nice little book is a must for Kumil farmers and the new planters as it contains elaborate information in simple farmers language. Some of the topics covered by this book are listed here:
  • General information about the tree, flowers, fruits, seeds, seed collection, storage, seed handling, nursery raising Etc.
  • Maintenance of seedlings
  • Vegetative propagation
  • Plantation methods
  • Silvicultural characteristics
  • Planting space
  • Pests and diseases
  • Importance of pruning and mulching
  • Recommended intercrops
  • Wood properties (Both physical and chemical)
  • Timber characteristics
  • Wood processing
  • Uses
  • Growth statistics
  • Economics
  • Comparison with Eucalyptus for using kumil wood pulp for paper making.
Thanks to Dr.S.Saravanan for his meticulous efforts in compiling this useful book. This book can be purchased from : The Director, IFGTB, PB:1061, Forest campus, Coimbatore - 641 002, Tamilnadu. Price Rs.70/- Tel No.04222484142.

A.Vishnu Sankar

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB), Coimbatore has organized a "Tree Growers Mela" on 23rd and 24th February, 2012 at Coimbatore. It was inaugurated by Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan, Hon’ble Minister of State (Independent charge), Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. More than 1000 farmers from TamilNadu, Puducherry and palakkad District of Kerala participated in the mela.

During the function she released the following publications brought out by IFGTB:
  • Proceedings of Casuarina Seminar that was held last year,
  • Book on Biofertilizers and Biomanures,
  • Cultivation guide on Gmelina arborea (Kumil) in Tamil, Frankia, Vana Ariviyal a Tamil quarterly newsletter,
  • Brochure on yield table for Casuarina.
Hon'ble Minister also released two products, a biofertilizer developed by IFGTB and a pesticide HyACT based on plant formulations.

She announced a grant of Rs. 1 crore to produce 15 lakhs of quality planting stock of Casuarina for supply to the 'Thane' cyclone affected farmers of Tamilnadu and Puducherry areas. She declared IFGTB as an ENVIS Centre on the subject of Forest Genetic Resources and Tree Improvement.

IFGTB has assigned
'one scientist for each district' of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, Andaman Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep to address the environmental and forestry issues related to those districts. Individual farmers or Farmer's Associations can call the respective scientist to clear their forestry related issues.

This 'Tree Grower's Mela' has assumed great importance over the years since it is bringing together a large number of farmers, wood-based industries and forestry research organizations on one platform which will help in understanding the issues related to tree farming and exchange of ideas and sharing of experiences.

The lectures and presentations from the scientists were very informative and useful to farmers. Even though an exclusive session was allotted to the farmers to share their tree growing experience with the scientists, it is sad to note that the contribution from the farmer's side was very poor.

I have assured the Director that with little persuasion, effort and advance planning the quality of presentations from the farmers side will be increased considerably in the next mela.

A.Vishnu Sankar.

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