Eucalyptus tree has tremendous commercial potential. That is why the eucalyptus plantation is a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs. However, the commercial farming demands an adequate area of land and investment for agricultural inputs including labour, irrigation and saplings. Here in this post, we intend to explore how to start commercial eucalyptus farming business.
The scientific name of the principal species of eucalyptus is Eucalyptus globulus. It belongs to Myrtaceae family. It is an evergreen tree. The other popular regional names are Safeda, gum tree, red iron tree and Nilgiri. Basically, it is native to Australia and New Zeland.
The tree consists of over 500 species of trees. Additionally, it grows under a wide range of climatic and edaphic conditions in their natural habitat. This is the one reason for the successful introduction of Eucalyptus into so many other countries in the world.
In India, some of the major eucalyptus growing states are Punjab, Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu.
Economic Importance of Eucalyptus Farming
Basically, eucalyptus farming is beneficial both for the small farmers for profit and subsistence and by large conglomerates for industrial wood supply. Certain species of eucalyptus yield valuable essential oils, whilst some also provide an excellent source of nectar for honeybees. Actually, eucalyptus trees are the rich source of fuelwood, poles, timber, lumber, biomass, essential oil.
The wood yields a brownish pulp useful in the manufacture of wrapping paper and cardboard. Additionally, you can obtain good quality white pulp from the wood by sulphate and soda process. Also, you can mix it with spruce and other long fibre pulp, blue-gum pulp for producing high-grade pulp. In addition, you can prepare high alpha cellulose pulp by sulphite process which in turn prepares into viscose rayon, an important synthetic fibre.
Health Benefits of Eucalyptus
- First of all, eucalyptus helps in treating sinus and allergies
- Eucalyptus essential oil has antiseptic qualities because of its germicidal quality.
- Also, it is effective for treating a number of respiratory problems including cold, cough, runny nose, sore throat, asthma, nasal congestion, bronchitis.
- Eucalyptus essential oil is very effective against cavities, dental plaque, gingivitis and other dental infections owing to its germicidal properties.
- Additionally, the oil is also a bug repellent and natural pesticide.
Things To Consider in Commercial Eucalyptus Farming
- First of all, eucalyptus plantation is a long term business. And you can only go for first harvest after six years.
- Therefore, you must have the financial preparation accordingly.
- Choose the species carefully. Determine the specific reason of growing eucalyptus and select the species accordingly.
- Generally, the tree doesn’t demand adequate irrigation. However, you must have the preparation for irrigation in case of any drought situation.
- Before harvest, identify the customer for your produce.
Best Varieties For Eucalyptus Farming
Some of the profitable commercial varieties are E citriodora, E globules, E hybrid, eucalyptus camaldulensis, FRI 4 and 5. In addtion, clone varities are also very popular. Some of the potential clone varieties are 3, 7, 271, 288, 316, 411, 413, and 2045.
Agro Climatic Condition For Eucalyptus Farming
Eucalyptus is versatile, fast growing and strongly coppicing tree possessing a wide range of soil and climatic adaptability. Additionally, the species is also moderately salt tolerant and relatively fire resistant. The species grows under a wide range of climatic/soil conditions from warm to hot, sub humid to humid and from good to degraded soils. However, it requires 4 cm to 40 cm annual rainfall. Usualy, you can grow eucalyptus within a temperature range of 0°C to 45°C.
Suitable Soil For Eucalyptus Farming
You can grow eucalyptus is the light, medium and heavy soils. However, it thrives well in deep, rich and well drained loamy soil with sufficient moisture. Even, you can grow the hybrid species in the alkaline and saline soils. PH balance 6 to 7.5 is just perfect for growing eucalyptus commercially.
Commercial Eucalyptus Farming – Basic Steps
You can raise saplings by two ways. Either you can propagate it from seeds or through vegetative propagation by cuttings (clonal propagation). Under nursery conditions, you can sow the seeds on raised beds under shade. You can achieve rapid and complete germination under moist, warm (25 – 35 0C) conditions in presence of light.
The next step is transplantation. According to the requirement of species you have to prepare the field for transplantation. Additionally, maintain proper spacing and nutrients content in the soil. Eucalyptus is intolerant to shade and does not compete well with grasses for water and nutrients, thus 2-3 hand weeding and soil working in the initial stages are essential.
Generally, eucalyptus plantation doesn’t demand any regular irrigation. However, protective irrigation is essential. In case of monsoon failure, you must provide protective irrigation.
Owing to its fast growth, Eucalyptus is a heavy feeder and requires supplements in form of organic and chemical fertilizers in successive years. Deficiency of Nitrogen in soils is a limiting factor for growth and can reduce the yield by 60%. For maintaining the soil fertility, it is advisable to raise Eucalyptus trees with legumes as an intercrop.
You must have the proper arrangements of plant protection to save the plants from the potential pests and diseases. One of the most serious diseases of E. tereticornis is canker caused by fungus, Corticium salmonicolour known as pink disease. Other fungal pathogens to cause damage include, Ganaderma lucidium, Endothia gyrosa and Cylindrocladium spp.
Harvesting & Yield
You can go for first harvest after 5 years post growing. On an average, a single tree can yield up to 500 Kgs of timber. However, a proper distance between the trees ensure higher yield in the eucalyptus farming business.