Malaysia eyes 1.2 mln ha of rubber by 2020

Govt has launched replanting and new planting programme under the Rubber National Key Economic AreaKUCHING: Malaysia is expected to produce about two million tonnes of latex annually by 2020 and through rubber downstream activities supported by this volume of production the industry is expected to contribute RM52.9 billion in terms of Gross National Income (GNI).

To reach this target the government has launched replanting and new planting programme under the Rubber National Key Economic Area (NKEA).

Under this programme 40,000ha of old rubber trees will be replanted continuously while new planting of 30,000ha per year will be conducted for 5 years.

The target of this programme is to have 1.2 million hectares planted with rubber trees that could achieve a National Average Yield be 2000kg/ha/year by 2020.

Three agencies have been appointed to conduct the replanting and new planting programmes and these are Risda in Peninsular Malaysia, Lembaga Industri Getah Sabah (LIGS) and Risda in Sabah while Jabatan Pertanian Sarawak (JPS) and Risda in Sarawak.

Smallholders interested to carry out replanting or new planting of rubber are advised to visit the websites of these 3 agencies for further information or to contact their respective officers.

The issue that came to mind when we talked about replanting or new planting of rubber is the planting materials.

This article is specially produced by Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) to explain the frequently asked questions by smallholders on planting materials.

Smallholders are reminded to plant the right planting materials to ensure good returns to them and Rubber NKEA targets are achieved.


What is 1Malaysia Clone?


RRIM 3001, which is also known as 1Malaysia clone was bred by Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) in 1976 through hand pollination between clone IAN 873 as female parent and clone PB 235 as male parent. One of the seedlings produced through this pollination was found to give high latex yield.

The seedling was coded KT39/35. KT is the acronym for Kota Tinggi in Johor where the seedling performance was studied in a properly designed experiment.

When yield performance of the seedling was found to be high and it seemed promising as another latex timber clone, further testing was carried out in a small scale clone trial. Then it was further tested in large scale clone trials in various locations to examine whether this clone was stable in terms of yield and flexible enough to adapt when exposed to diverse environments.

The results were encouraging as indicated in Table 1.

A clone is produced through grafting a bud from clone RRIM 3001 onto a rootstock raised from seed. Seeds from RRIM 600 should not be used as rootstocks because plants grown from germinated seeds of this clone have high tendency to develop genetic yellow disease.

The preferred seeds for the production of rootstocks should be seeds from clones GT1, PB 5/51, RRIM 623 or those produced by trees of MRB’s recommended RRIM 2000 series latex timber clones or RRIM 900 series clones planted as polyclonal (two clones or more planted in a specific block in one area), or monoclonal areas (only one clone planted in a specific block in one area).

To date MRB has not established whether the seeds from RRIM 3001 are suitable to be used as rootstocks.


If the seeds from RRIM 3001 were allowed to grow, will the trees be RRIM 3001?


The answer is NO. This is because seeds from RRIM 3001 contain genetic make ups that are different from the parent RRIM 3001 and these will make them different from each other.

It also means that all desired traits from the original RRIM 3001 will not be available in all the seeds produced by the RRIM 3001 trees. The analogy is like differences found among siblings from the same parents. Therefore seeds from RRIM 3001 rubber trees are not RRIM 3001 clone.


What will happen if the seeds from RRIM 3001 are used as planting materials?


More often than not the usage of seeds as planting materials would lead to problems such as high variability in terms of plant growth, yield and trunk shape. It means the trees will not be uniform.

Furthermore, some trees may produce very little latex than that of the mother tree.

The correct way to produce RRIM 3001 clone is to use seeds from GT1, PB 5/51 and RRIM 623, grow them into rootstocks and bud these rootstocks with budeyes taken from verified RRIM 3001.

After 21 days have elapsed the rootstocks are pollarded at about five cm from the end of bud patch. This action will trigger the buds of RRIM 3001 grafted onto the root stock to grow.

MRB recommends that the scions are allowed to grow until two hardened whorls before they are planted in the fields. It is further recommended that the rootstocks, scion and the two whorls are grown in polybags and the recommended polybag is of the size 44 cm x 39 cm.


What are the clones recommended to be planted by MRB?


Under the Rubber NKEA programme, the clones recommended to be planted are RRIM 3001, RRIM 2025, RRIM 2023, RRIM 928, RRIM 929 and PB 350 clones.

However, some of these clones are not suitable for certain areas or type of soils. For example, clones RRIM 3001 and RRIM 2025 are not suitable in hilly areas with evidence of strong wind.

Results have shown that these clones suffered from branch snap and to a certain extent, trunk snap.

In addition, clone RRIM 3001 was found to suffer from bark burst when planted in lateritic soil.

Therefore it is highly recommended that during planning of replanting or new planting, plant breeders in MRB be consulted. Under the NKEA programmes, agreements have been made for the 3 implementing agencies to contact MRB to verify the soil and the suitable clones to be planted.

As far as budeyes are concerned, they can be sourced from nurseries where the sources of their budeyes have been verified by MRB.

To date the 3 implementing agencies have taken necessary actions to ensure there is adequate planting materials of the recommended clones to implement the rubber NKEA programmes.

MRB used to recommend clones for latex (Latex Clones or LC) and clones for latex and timber (Latex Timber Clones or LTC). Due to better return and ensuring supply to the downstream furniture industry, only LTCs are being recommended now.


Are the smallholders supposed to plant only one of the 6 recommended clones or all the 6 clones?


The recommendation by MRB is 60:40, 60 per cent consists of clones from Group I and 40 per cent consists of clones from Group II.

Group I consists of clones with known track records based on at least five years yield data and observations of secondary characteristics in large scale trials e.g Large Scale Clone Trials, Monitored Development Projects (MDP) or commercial planting. These are also the clones recommended for planting in estates and smallholdings without any restriction imposed on size of planting.

RRIM 928, RRIM 929 and PB 350 are clones in Group I. They are latex timber clones which imply they are capable of producing high latex and good rubberwood yield.

Group II consists of newly released clones which are promising in the preliminary trials.

These clones are selected based on five years yield data and other secondary characteristics from trials in limited scale i.e. Small Scale Clone Trials.

The performances of these clones in different climatic, soil and environments are yet to be established. Therefore, with the limited data, these clones are recommended for large scale planting only under close supervision through the monitored development projects.

RRIM 3001, RRIM 2025 and RRIM 2023 are LTC in Group II. They exhibit good growth form such as good growth vigour and possess long straight boles. These clones are suitable for the production of latex and rubberwood or production of rubberwood only.


Are these the only clones recommended by MRB?


MRB has recommended many clones, however, under the NKEA, MRB decided to reduce the number to 6 to ensure only verified high quality planting materials are supplied to smallholders. Other clones recommended by MRB are as listed in Table 2.

For smallholders in remote areas, is there a better way to transport the planting materials?

In order to reduce the difficulties and the high cost to transport two hardened whorls polybag planting materials to the interior areas of Sabah and Sarawak for example, MRB suggests the utilisation of bare root budded stumps (BRS) prepared as outlined below:-


• After the land preparation in the ground nursery has been completed, fresh seeds are sown 15 cm apart directly in a row with a distance of 75cm between two rows.

• The rootstock should be allowed to grow for at least five months prior to budgrafting.

• After three weeks have elapsed from the day of budgrafting, the successful budgrafted rootstocks can be extracted from the ground.

• The stem will be cut at 4-5cm from the grafted union, tap root will be cut at 30–45 cm from the root collar, while lateral roots will be trimmed off.

• The cut end of the stem must be dipped into molten wax at 1cm length to reduce the risk of dehydration while the root section must be dipped into root hormone (IBA) and air dried under shade before they are packed and dispatched or transplanted into polybags.

• The buds used to produce BRS should be sourced from sourcebush nurseries which have been verified by MRB.


This article is by Malaysian Rubber Board.

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