Beijing – Yunnan Natural Rubber Industry Group (Yunnan Rubber), China’s top natural rubber producer, has suspended tapping at some of its plantations across Yunnan province following drought and pest infestations since this spring.
Shanghai rubber futures climbed 2% last week amid the shortfall, compared with the week before.
Yunnan Rubber currently has 334 million sqm total plantation and 48 processing plants with 500,000 tonne annual capacity.
The drought, heat and ensuing six-spotted mite infestation has hit an array of its plantations, said the company’s website.
Nearly 73 million sqm plantations in Pu’er or 91% of the prefecture’s total stopped tapping by 15 May, said Yunnan Rubber.
All of Ximeng county’s 80 million sqm plantations halted tapping by 21 May. Other areas such as Menglian, Hekou and Mojiang are under severe impact as well.
The disasters also affected Yunnan Rubber’s 18 million sqm plantation in Laos, which partially suspended tapping in early April and came to a full stop by 15 May.
Two processing plants in Xishuangbanna, another heavily hit area, have paused production by mid May.
The prefecture’s daily dry rubber yield plummeted to 100 tonnes compared with 600 tonnes during the same period last year.
In addition, the drought is likely followed by incessant rainfall, which could cause powdery mildew disease among the trees when they sprout again.
In this case tapping would have to be postponed indefinitely, said Yunnan Rubber.
The company has set up infestation monitoring spots in its plantations and is providing free-of-charge prevention or treatment to the farmers.
It has also switched to the shallow tapping method in less-affected areas.