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General Discussion / Hello to everyone
« Last post by Welshy on September 14, 2013, 10:01:07 PM »
Hi all, I am new to this site so a big hello to all. I have bought my place near pakchong and have family deeper into issan. So I'm still working in Australia but over the next decade will slowly be spending more and more time over in Thailand. 50 years old Married with 6kids from Sydney Australia.Looking forward to getting to know you all and share some discussions. what attracted me was some great posts on Rubber Farming. I am a member on Thai Visa under "bakabas" but haven't posted anything for 6 years. Cheers
Growing / How to trim or prune rubber trees?
« Last post by USA Expat on June 20, 2013, 09:44:35 AM »
How to prune rubber trees?

As your trees are growing, you will get offshoot branches growing in undesirable places on the trunk of the tree.

You will only want to keep the branches at the top of the tree, remove any branches offshooting from the trunk below 3 meters.  With the exception of newly planted trees, which you will only want to keep the branches at the very tips of the tree.

You do not want your trees to get too tall too young.  If they are growing too fast, you will have a problem with the tree being too tall for the size of the trunk to support.  A two year old tree should not be more than 3 meters tall. 

If the trees are growing too tall, and they are healthy, go ahead and cut the main trunk at the 3 meter point.  This will encourage new branches to sprout out from the area of the cut.

If your tress are too tall, and have started to droop over, reduce the weight of the top of the tree by trimming all excess branches from the top of the tree, and give all remaining branches a haircut.  You only need 3 or 4 main branches remaining for continued growth.

Use rope or plastic twine to pull the tree straight again tying the rope to stakes in the ground.  Usually two supports are required to straighten the tree.
General Info / 2012 US Citizen Warden Conference September in Bangkok
« Last post by frankga on August 15, 2012, 06:48:42 PM »
This is primarily for US Citizens only, but someone else might also have a RELEVANT matter to suggest for discussion or mention at the Warden conference in Bangkok scheduled for late September 2012.
If anyone has any item of concern, complaint, compliment, epiphany, problem or idea that you think needs to be brought up then, please email me at well before the conference. Subjects can include visa, spouses, drugs, national security, prison, you name it...
Thank you and all the best.
Growing / Re: When and how often to fertilize rubber trees in Thailand
« Last post by Seka Expat on July 30, 2012, 10:45:02 AM »
Certainly fertilizing your trees 3 times a year is good practice and if you do irrigate, which is rarely found, then you can feed your trees at any time you choose.

At the time of leaf drop is not the ideal time to feed, indeed if Thai people feed it is often only once a year and when the rainy season is under way. Financial restrictions are a major factor. To provide the best for your trees, it will be necessary to invest in good fertilizer.

As you mention feeding during the dry season serves no purpose as all feed will be blown away with the wind and so will be a waste of money.

If you are able to water, with good ground leaf mulch, you can water just once a month, since good mulch will assist in preventing moisture loss. Feeding methods will vary according to your watering method. We simply pump water via a 2" pipe to the head of each line and with a gentle slope, water runs all the way. As we move to the next line, every third month we can put a little feed under the mulch of leaves at every tree spacing. We have created minor terracing to allow water pool to form and flow down to the next level, this needs to be re established after each rainy season. The flow of water needs to have stopped, so that fertilizer is not washed downstream.

Every 3rd watering a modest feed will give great benefit to the trees. Watering alone, even without feed allows the root system to expand and the clay pot effect of the hard dry season will have no bearing. It has been proven in papers I have read (though I cannot remember exactly where) that watering will give a denser root system and therefore more rapid uptake of nutrients, making stronger, healthier trees in a shorter period of time, thus giving the potential for higher production than would otherwise be the case!

Also as your trees reach 4 to 5 years and the canopy meets between the lines, the increased shade assists keeping the cool under the trees and therefore less evaporation and water loss. It is inevitable in the early stages that there will be greater water loss! Keep your leaves and even create mulch that gives the moisture that will encourage worms onto your farm. They are your natural farmers who till the soil!
It should be noted that it is not possible to give precise predictions of income from rubber, since there are many factors affecting income.

It would be more accurate and realistic to talk about production figures according to the type of rubber you produce. Cup rubber (rainy season) will produce more kilo's than Rss3, which is the dried and smoked sheet.

I estimate a 40% weight loss from wet sheet to dried sheet after a 2 week drying period, but prices are greater for the dried sheet and you can keep them longer than cup/ball rubber. Ball rubber cannot be stored for long periods, unless you choose to make a crepe rubber from them, which is another process whereby you can dry and keep your rubber.

The advantage of keeping rubber is that you can determine when to accept the prevailing market price, rather than being forced to sell immediately! Therefore dried rubber gives you the decision making and control!

Production has many variables such as weather! Heat, cold, wet, dry and wind all have their own influences according to the seasons and time of year! Wind can dry the cut and latex will dry and restrict flow, rain can wash you out, heat can cause drying, cold can increase turgor pressure and squeeze out the latex! Time of day or night that you cut your trees will determine prevailing temperature and directly affect production too, when season allows, cutting at night is the norm, but during the rainy season teams cut whenever it is dry enough. We have on one occasion gone 6 days without a cut due to rain! This affects your production.

Factors such as soil types will have a direct bearing on how well your trees will grow and produce, how and what you feed you trees with. Irrigation as mentioned in another post. Land maintenance and weed clearing are helpful Tree maintenance as they grow and how you cut off side branches and at what height!

Another important factor and one that needs to be right at the planting stage is the quality of your baby trees! I have found a marked difference between the growth rates of smaller root stocks to larger one’s. The larger root stocks do grow and mature quicker, whereas the smaller one’s remain puny and small for a long time! Extra feeding makes no difference. Many Thai’s say Mai Bpen Rai, or it does not matter. Who you listen to will decide your production and income. At the nursery I will would choose my own baby trees and don’t let the Thai helpers give me their worst trees! (I have finished planting). Look at the size of your little finger and compare to your thumb. If this were the difference in your baby trees, which would stand the best chance? Always in nature, the biggest wins!

After planting, loss of new trees due dry conditions can be a factor, irrigation is key to survival! If you have to re plant, then well established trees a year older will have an advantage over second year plantings. Third year re planting is a waste of time and money as they will never grow unless drastic measures are taken. If you do this you will need to cut the leaves and branches on neighbouring trees to give the smaller one’s enough sunlight to survive!

One of the most important factors is at what stage you first open your trees, if too small you will stunt their future growth. This is a scenario seen many times over here in Thailand. When you open the veins of the tree you must realize that you are in effect taking the life blood of the tree to produce your income, yet you must leave enough to let the tree continue it's growth!

Whether you cut 2 or 3 faces will affect quantities of latex as will the angle of your  cut. These two last factors determine the number of vessels you open and therefore the production and future health of your trees!

How deep or shallow you cut into the tree will also have a great bearing on your income, too deep is harmful, to shallow will not produce a flow of latex, much will depend on the expertise of your cutting team. Just don't allow anyone and I mean anyone to practice on your trees. They must demonstrate their skill before we take on any new team!

The age or maturity of your trees will also be a major factor. As will the specific type of tree and planting density. I have observed the production of my father in law, prior to planting my own trees back in 2002. I witnessed production of an average of 1.7 kilo's per tree per month and this was in October/November of 2002 back when price per kilo was 18 baht. My father in law had 400 trees at that time, but by averaging his production, I could work out according to the scale of my own project, what I was likely to achieve. His trees were 12 years old at that time. Now at 22 years old they are huge, healthy and still producing well! I downsized the 1.7 kilo and work on 1 kilo per tree per month on average for 9 months of the year.

You must remember that the normal remuneration for your team will be 40% of the production or sale price, so factor this into your calculations too!

So on to market price! There can be huge fluctuations at any given time and there are seasonal influences as well as oil price influences.

Last I knew 80% of world production comes from south east asia, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand! A pretty big market! Approximately 20% of world rubber produced is natural rubber.

So how much money can you make?? It's anyone's guess. You can work out estimates and one person can tell you this and another that. No one can really tell you because they cannot predict the weather, or control the care of your trees or where you plant them, you can only make an approximation since all factors mentioned above and more can come to bear on your venture.

A Thai may tell you one thing and a foreigner will tell you another, just work things out for yourself!

A simple sum would be 1kg/month x 80 (12 year old trees) per rai x how many rai x market price minus 40%! This will be near the mark, but not precise!

Given all the factors mentioned above you can arrive at only a general figure!

If price is 60 for cup/ball rubber baht using the above calculation, then monthly income will be 4,800 baht per rai.

Your 60% take will produce 2,880 baht per rai. If price doubles to 120 baht, but production halves, you get the same!

If price doubles to 120 baht and production doubles, then you get 11,520 baht, which is an attractive figure, but if price halves to 30 baht and production halves at the same time, then you get 720 baht, which is not attractive.

So this calculation shows you why not one person can tell you exactly how much you can make with rubber.

You just have to use the best prctices you can to get the best production, after that find the highest price the market will pay you! That’s business! Good luck!
Border Locations / Savannakhet, Laos
« Last post by USA Expat on July 22, 2012, 07:34:30 AM »
Thai Consulate in Savannakhet, Laos

This Laos city is located across the Mekong river from Mukdahan, Thailand.  There is a bridge which crosses the river from Thailand to Laos about 10km north of Mukdahan.

This Thai Consulate offers all visa services to foreigners wishing to visit Thailand.  Here is a link to their website Savannakhet Thai Consulate

I used the Savan Vegas Casino visa run package to get a Non "O" visa from this consulate. Overall, it was an easy successful trip.  Here is how it worked:
  • I made reservations via the Savan Vegas website and in the comments I said I was doing a visa run for a Non "O" marriage visa.
  • I received a phone call from a girl at the hotel confirming what I needed to do, and she also reviewed with me the documents I should bring with me for the visa.
  • I also received an email from them detailing out everything, including stating again what documents I needed to bring
  • We drove our own car to the Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan and found the Savan Vegas office located in the parking lot on the Thai side of the bridge.
  • Parked the car in a covered parking area near the Savan Vegas office. - cost 150 baht for one overnight trip
  • We took all our papers inside the office and the girls took my passport and prepared the entry and exit papers for Laos and Thailand.
  • My Wife does not have a passport, so they took her Thai ID card and prepared a temporary passport for her to use. - cost 100 baht
  • They then took my passport and her temporary passport to the border and got everything pre-stamped with the exit stamps so we did not need to wait in line at the border crossing. - cost 50 baht
  • At the Laos border, the Savan Vegas staff took my passport, photo, and 1,500 baht fee and took care of getting the Laos Visa on Arrival.  They also took my wife's temporary passport to the window to be stamped for us while we waited in the air conditioned van.  - cost 40 baht
  • Arrived at the casino and was greeted by a girl waiting for us and took us directly to the Check-in desk to get our room and paid the 1,499 baht room fee, plus a 1,000 baht deposit.
  • Then she took us to their VIP desk to get the paperwork started.  They had the application form for me to fill out, and would have made copies of everything if I had not already had copies.  They verified all the documents, had me sign some papers, then they told us to come back to the desk the following day about 2:30PM to pick up my passport.
  • We proceeded to our room where our bags were waiting.  I should mention that the room was very nice, clean, and comfortable.
  • We played around the casino, went for a 90 minute massage for myself and the wife at the spa (one was free included with the visa run package), took a taxi into Savannakhet to look around, did some shopping, had dinner at a nice restaurant on the river, etc. Then the following day, at 2:30PM, we went to the check out desk to check out of the hotel (late checkout is included), and the girl from the VIP desk greeted us there with my passport and original documents all ready to go.
  • We went outside to the van and left for Thailand.  At the Laos side of the border, the Savan Vegas people took my passport and wife's temporary passport to the window to get the exit stamps (again while we waited in the air conditioned van). - cost 40 baht
  • When we reached the Thai border, across the river, we exited the van and went to the window ourselves to get the entry stamps.  The hotel staff cannot do this for you since the immigration people want to see your face and take a picture.
  • The van took us to our car, helped unload our bags into the car, and off we went

It all went very well.  The only surprises were the additional small fees for parking, crossing the border, etc. 
The buffet at the casino was marginal - all Thai food with a selection of 5 or 6 items.  The hotel also has a Chinese restaurant featuring a selection of Thai food (?), and a Western restaurant with steak, fish, hamburger, spaghetti, etc. 
The hotel staff were all great and very friendly.  The hotel and casino was nicely decorated, very clean.  I have been to Las Vegas many times, and they did a nice job of reproducing that look and feel.
The other customers at the hotel seemed to be low class folks all hoping to strike it rich.  It seemed like the hotel offers free food to nearly everyone, so the buffet was crowded with pushy Thai folks staring at the farrang.

I would do this again if I needed to cross the border for another visa.  It was very easy, and the hotel was a nice place to stay.
Growing / When and how often to fertilize rubber trees in Thailand
« Last post by USA Expat on July 21, 2012, 07:40:31 AM »
When to fertilize rubber trees in Thailand

It is recommended to apply fertilizer at least 3 times a year, and 4 is better.

The fertilizer only works when there is water coming to the trees that will absorb the fertilizer and soak it down to the roots.

Some fertilize every 3 months beginning with the rain season around April, then again 3 months later; and a 3rd time when the leaves drop; and finally 3 months after that. 

I believe it is waste of money to fertilize during the dry season when there is no rain.  If you use an irrigation system, then you can use the "every 3 month" rule. 

If you are relying on rain, then fertilize twice during rain season, once at the beginning, then again 2 months later, then again 3 months after that.

Other suggestions?
Growing / What is the best fertilizer to use for rubber trees?
« Last post by USA Expat on July 21, 2012, 07:39:36 AM »
Fertilizer for rubber trees in Thailand

According to the Thailand agricultural department:

For the first 6 years, use 20-10-12 in the following amounts per rai:

First 6 months: 7kg per rai / 80 grams per tree
7 - 18 months: 9kg per rai / 110 grams per tree
24 - 30 months: 10kg per rai / 120 grams per tree
31 - 53 months: 15kg per rai / 180 grams per tree
After 53 months: 16kg per rai / 200 grams per tree

After 6 years, use 15-7-18
and after 20 years, use 20-8-20

I heard advice from one farmer, who is currently cutting his trees, he mixes his fertilizer, 50% 15-7-18 and 50% 46-0-0, he says this is working very well for his trees.
How much money will a rubber tree farm in Thailand make?

A rubber tree farm in Thailand can produce anywhere from 200 to 400kg of rubber per rai, per year.  There are many different reports from many sources about how much rubber your trees can produce.  I have a friend who says his farm of 8,000 trees are averaging about 1kg per tree per month.  For our purposes, we will stay conservative and use an average from the Thailand agriculture department of about 276kg per rai annually.

With 25 rai, that amounts to 6,900kg per year.  Prices for hard cup rubber today is about 60 baht per kg, but it has varied from as low as 40 baht to as high as 95 baht.  Using the 60 baht price, that would be 414,000 baht per year.

HOWEVER, based on my experience, and after talking to other rubber tree farmers in the area, the .5kg per tree per month is more plausible: 25 rai would be about 1,000kg per month, or 12,000kg per year, or 720,000 baht annually.  Or a monthly income of 60,000 baht.
Getting Started / Rubber Tree Types for rubber tree farms in Thailand
« Last post by USA Expat on July 21, 2012, 07:36:31 AM »
The most common rubber trees found in Thailand for the purpose of farming are  RRIT251 and RRIM600.

  • Takes 7 years before they are mature enough to produce a yield.
  • Has a longer life span than the RRIT251

  • Produces a high yield
  • Grows much faster and can start tapping in about 5 years
  • More susceptible to disease

I hope that others will add their opinions of these trees.
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