Manuring of nursery plants, if not done so far, can be undertaken after ensuring adequate soil moisture. In addition to the basal application of organic manure and rock phosphate applied at the time of land preparation, 10:10:4:1.5 NPKMg mixture at the rate of 250 gm per m2 can be applied 6-8 weeks after planting. Fertilizer should be applied in between the rows followed by light forking to incorporate the fertilizer into the top soil.
Mulching the inter-row areas with dried plant materials is useful in conserving the soil moisture, suppressing the weed growth and protecting the base of the stem from direct sunlight. Green leaves and fresh grass cuttings should not be used for mulching.
Irrigation may be carried out in nurseries in the morning and evening if the soil moisture is low. Under proper irrigation, the frequency can also be reduced to once in a week.
In budwood nurseries, false shoots sprouting from the stock, if any, should be removed. Weeding should also be carried out regularly and the weeds so removed may be kept in inter-rows for using as mulch after drying.
Growers who intend to use polybagged plants for planting during next season, can start the preparation during this month. If properly maintained, the polybagged plants prepared now will have four to five whorls of leaves by the next planting season. Since these plants grow for 6-7 months in polybags, a reduction in the immaturity period by about one year can be expected. Polybagged plants are definitely advantageous for easy establishment and also for reducing the initial mortalities. Growth of the plants is uniform and can be brought to tapping at the same time. Because of the shortening of immaturity period there will be a proportionate reduction in the development cost also. Overhead partial shading with polythene shade net or coconut leaves is recommended if hot weather prevails.
The nursery plants may be sprayed with Indofil M.45 (2.6g/L) or Bavistin (1g/L) if symptoms of leaf spot diseases appear.
In young rubber plantations, mulching or covering the soil around the young plants should be undertaken. Mulching is very effective in retaining soil moisture, protecting the soil from the lashing rainfall which causes soil erosion and preventing leaching loss of nutrients. It also protects the collar of young plants from sun-scorching action and prevents weed growth around plant basin. Natural materials like leaves, grass cuttings, ‘African payal’ ( Salvinia sp.) etc. can be used as mulch after drying. Care should be taken to place the mulching materials about two to three inches away from the plant base so that the collar of the young plants is not in touch, as too close mulching leads to collar injuries and subsequent fungal infection.
White washing using lime or china clay can be practised, from second year of planting till canopy closes, for protecting brown bark from sunscorch.
During the year of planting, the young plants should be protected by shading. Plaited coconut leaves or bamboo baskets can be used for this purpose. Care should be taken to use bamboo baskets of adequate size, so that it does not hinder the growth of the plants.
In the case of budgrafts, false shoots sprouting from the stock, if any, should be removed. Pruning should be carried out to remove side-shoots up to 2.5 m from the ground level. Since the tapping panel is opened at the height of 125 cm (4 feet ) from the bud union, in budded plants, it is not desirable to allow branching up to a height of 2.5 m. The side shoots and branches should be cut back regularly using a sharp knife.
During the initial years of growth, some plants tend to bend and in such cases, the plants have to be kept erect by providing adequate support using wooden or bamboo poles. If plants are tied with ropes, the bark must be protected at the point of contact with a pad of sack or other suitable soft materials to avoid damage. The rope should not be tied too tightly to the stem as otherwise it will obstruct girthing.
If branch snap or other damage is caused to the trees due to wind, the affected portion may be cut carefully and a petroleum wound dressing compound applied.
Symptoms of pink disease and dry rot disease are often seen during this time also. Branches dried due to pink disease should be cut and the cut surface applied with Thiride (10g/kg) incorporated in petroleum wound dressing compound (rubberkote). Profuse exudation is associated with dry rot disease. Thiride-rubberkote combination is effective against this disease also.
Fertilizers can be applied to the newly planted cover crops and to those which are not manured till now. 150 kg of powdered rock phosphate per ha can be applied in two equal splits. The first dose is applied one month after sowing and the second, two months after the first application. If manuring is done after germination, one time application of half the quantity of fertilizer is recommended. Weeding may be carried out in the cover crop planted patches for ensuring proper growth and spread. The bases of young rubber plants should be kept free of cover crop growth during the initial years to prevent competition with young rubber. Twining of cover crop vines on young rubber should be prevented by cutting and removing.
Yield stimulants like ethephon (Ethrel) can be applied on trees under tapping during this month.