The History of Teak Plantations

Posted by admin on Jul 19, 2016 under Teak furniture care

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Teak is one of the most sought after and well-loved garden furniture materials, not only for its beautiful, aesthetic appearance but also for its unmatched quality.
After the introduction of teak into Java, Indonesia, the first teak plantation was started in Sri Lanka in 1680. It gradually grew in popularity and eventually spread to India in the 1840’s where it continued to spread to a substantial level in 1865.

After becoming so popular in Asia, Teak’s charm and utility led it to spread outside of Asia and its first stop was Nigeria in 1902.
Then tropical America jumped on the bandwagon and the first teak plantation was established in Trinidad and Tobago in 1913, followed by Honduras, Panama and Costa Rica between the years 1927 and 1929.

teak plantations
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Germination of the Seeds

As noted by treeplantation.com:
‘Teak is propagated mainly from seeds. Germination of the seeds involves pre-treatment to overcome dormancy. Pre-treatment involves alternate wetting and drying of the seed. The seeds are soaked in water for 12 hours and then spread to dry in the sun for 12 hours. This is repeated for 10–14 days and then the seeds are sown in shallow germination beds of coarse peat covered by sand. The seeds then germinate after 15 to 30 days.’

Optimum Conditions

Optimum conditions are required in order for Teak to grow, but it does do extremely well under plantation conditions, unlike some of the other native African plants. This is because it is relatively fast growing and less susceptible to soil erosion, pests and diseases.
So what constitutes as teak’s optimum conditions?

optimum conditions
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According to fao.org:

Rainfall and moisture: ‘For the production of high quality wood with optimum growth, moisture conditions (as expressed by annual rainfall) should be between 1,200 and 2,500 mm with a marked dry season of 3-5 months (Kaosa-ard, 1981; Keogh, 1987).’

Soil: ‘Teak soil is relatively fertile with high calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), nitrogen (N) and organic matter (OM) contents. Several studies indicate that teak requires relatively large amounts of calcium for its growth and development.’

Light: ‘Teak has been classified as a pioneer species. Hence, it requires a high light intensity for its growth and development.’
Other factors: ‘Teak grows well under warm and humid conditions. A series of studies in controlled environments indicated that the optimum temperature for growth and development of the species is 27-36°C. Under frost conditions, seedlings and saplings are severely damaged and die (Kaosa-ard, 1981).’

teak
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Modern Day Teak Plantations

Due to the surging demands for teak garden furniture, many countries are placing felling restrictions on teak forest. Plantation owners are consequently having to seek new, sustainable locations in order meet the growing needs of manufacturers.

According to thedollarbusiness.com:

‘In India, teakwood, more commonly known by its trading name sagwan, is mostly imported from Myanmar, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Ecuador. Since the natural and original habitat for teak trees is the tropical forests of South-East Asia, Myanmar was, till recently, the only country producing and exporting natural forest-grown teak.’

‘But, in a bid to protect decreasing teak forests, even it has, since April 2014, restricted logging and has imposed a ban on exports. The other three major teak producers – India, Thailand and Laos – had already restricted felling and export of natural forest-grown teak logs.’

Feature Image: Credit to Kobfujar / shutterstock.com

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