The traditional rubber growing tract has almost reached the level of saturation for rubber cultivation and the scope for further expansion of the crop is very much limited.
Expansion of cultivation, which is of prime importance for stepping up rubber production on a sustainable basis, has to take place mainly in non-traditional areas. Studies on agro-climatic conditions in different parts of the country have been carried out for the last few decades with a view to identifying areas suitable for economic cultivation of rubber. Trial plantings have been also carried out in areas, which prima facie appeared promising. Based on successful results obtained, rubber cultivation is being promoted on commercial scales in regions identified as suitable for the purpose.
Non-traditional areas so far identified as almost fully or marginally suitable for rubber cultivation are hinterlands of coastal Karnataka, Goa, Konkan region of Maharasthra, hinterlands of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, certain areas in the northern parts of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, lower reaches of hills of Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and Andaman & NIcobar Islands. Work is in progress for identifying certain limited areas. No doubt, none of these areas can be considered as ideally suited for rubber. Different types of constraints or stress factors, mainly from the climatic angle are experienced in different areas. These range from highly seasonal rainfall, excessive rain precipitation, prolonged drought conditions, high temperature during summer, low temperature during winter, low relative humidity and occasional hailstorms. In certain areas like Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Orissa, limited irrigation will have to be resorted to for young plants in the field during dry seasons. Mulching and shading will also assume importance in dry and hot conditions.