Agricultural Practices

Agricultural Technology

Plantation establishment in a scientific way is a very important step in commercial agriculture. Right spacing, irrigation system, and infrastructure – whatever is done in the beginning will influence the lifetime of that plantation.

In our project, Agarwood is grown in both mono-crop and inter-crop systems along with companion commercial crops. Most of our plantations are developed in the unique model of inter-cropping system that has the lowest production cost, with no parallels elsewhere in the world. Three to four compatible crops are grown in the same place, with the right spacing, so that each species will have sufficient sunlight and minimum root competition.

Plantations are promoted in ideal locations based on climate, elevation, soil fertility, topography, rainfall, water source etc. Most of our plantations are in an elevation ranging between 2,000 ft and 3,500 ft from MSL, and in climatic zones which have long freezing winters and warm summers, conditions necessary to produce the best quality of resinous wood. 

For the very first time in the history of plantations, the company has introduced Agarwood as a shade tree in coffee estates, which has proven to be very beneficial in every manner. Simple agro-techniques such as growing Agar trees in semi-shade under commercial trees that will reduce leaf-eating caterpillars and also safeguard trees from drought, especially when the trees are inoculated, are followed.

To overcome the problem of planting bad varieties and then wasting capital and time, the company has introduced a genetically-traced species that increases productivity and quality. Plantations are managed very systemically by taking care of pest and disease control, proper pruning, and the replanting of damaged trees by well-qualified agro-tech professionals.

Climate & Soil

Agar plants grow well naturally in places that enjoy high humidity, receive an annual rainfall ranging from 125 to 750 cm, and are 300 – 1,500 metres above sea level. Tracing their origin to the rainforests of Southeast Asia, these trees are found in places of diverse geological backgrounds, from the rainforests of Northeast India to other Southeast Asian countries.

According to experts and the research conducted by the company, in Karnataka, places around Malnad that enjoy a cool weather, and coastal districts, are ideal for Agrawood cultivation. In these regions, Agarwood can be grown in Zero Budget Natural Farming method, without irrigation or the use of fertilisers. The number of live fungi and bacteria present in Malnad and its surrounding areas are ideal for the production of Agarwood. Fungi that are essential for the growth of aromatic resins in Agarwood trees naturally occur in an atmosphere that is high in moisture content.

If someone wishes to cultivate the tree in a warm and dry climate, then they have to make arrangements for suitable shade and irrigation. In such conditions, the chances of natural Agarwood formation due to fungal infections are less, and farmers need to adopt artificial inoculation techniques for the production of resinous wood.

Though Agarwood can be grown in a variety of soils, forest soil that is rich in organic content is ideal for its growth. If irrigated well, Agarwood can grow even in dry lands. Though wet and acidic soil is suitable for Agar plants, they do not grow well in extremely marshy conditions. Agar cultivation is not recommended in damp soil with waterlogging.

choice of seedlings

While taking up Agar cultivation on a commercial scale, the choice of the best species of plants is very important to get the best grade Agarwood. When trees are harvested, they should be able to give a good yield, for which resin quality, harvest time, fast growth etc., are the key factors. Considering all these aspects, our company has identified good varieties of Agarwood and has been providing seedlings of the genetically traced variety called A-12 at a reasonable price. In order to avoid duplication by private nurseries, we have printed our brand name on each polybag of seedlings.

Following are some of the key points in the selection of seedlings:

  • As Agarwood is a perfumery ingredient, each variety has a different aroma profile. Farmers have to plant the right variety that can produce Agarwood of good aroma.

  • The quality and quantity of Agarwood chips and oil depend on the variety or resinous wood produced. There is a lot of price difference between each grade. Good income is possible only if the tree produces superior grade of resin.

  • Inoculation is successful only for specific varieties, therefore only varieties which respond to inoculation should be planted. Since inoculation is an expensive procedure, if unsuccessful, it will result in a waste of money.

  • At present, subsidy from the Horticulture Department in Karnataka is given only for seedlings provided by Vanadurgi.

  • The cost of transportation, planting, pitting, weeding etc., is the same for any seedling. So, if you calculate the cost of planting and maintenance for one year, there is not much difference in the total cost of plantation development for nursery seedlings and our genetically traced seedlings. However, when the trees are harvested after 8 years, if they do not have resinous Agarwood, all the efforts will go a waste. So, it is better to go in for the variety of seedlings which we provide.

  • There are 16 different varieties of Agarwood. On an average, out of every 100 trees, only 7 trees produce commercially valuable resinous wood. Seeds should be collected from good mother trees. Normally, seeds are collected from trees which are previously harvested, and new suckers are developed by regeneration, and then the seeds are used for germination to get the character of mother trees. Seeds of the chosen variety of Agarwood should be collected and immediately sown. Of these, only a few seeds germinate, which should immediately be transferred to polybags and preserved for 2 years before they are planted.

Planting techniques

Planting Season

Rainy season, from June to October, is considered as the ideal season for planting. However, if irrigation facilities are available, farmers can plant the seedlings at any time other than winter, too. It is better to avoid planting in the heavy rainfall months to avoid damage to the roots of seedlings by fungus. If seedlings are planted in coffee or tea plantations, or along the fencing where irrigation is not provided in summer, it is better to plant them during the onset of monsoons, in the month of June. In such cases, seedlings will establish roots and survive in the summer without water.

Suitable Pits

Pits for the plantation of Agarwood seedlings should be 50-50-50 in length, breadth and depth. In case the plantation is in the forest or khushki land, top soil measuring about 3 inches from around the pit should be filled in the pit and then planted. In case the plantation is proposed in dry land or soil that is devoid of any organic content, it is best to mix some powder compost or cow manure with the soil before planting the saplings.

Root Coiling

Root coiling occurs when a seedling is allowed to grow in a small polybag which is not sufficient for the seedling’s tap root to penetrate straight into the soil. When a seedling with such root coiling is planted in the ground, sometimes new roots come out of the coiled area and grow as the mother root, if not, the coiled root continues to grow, resulting in a plant which does not have a proper mother root. Even though such trees grow, their growth is not satisfactory as compared to that of normal trees. Sometimes, such trees may fall down due to wind as their root system is not strong enough to hold the tree weight. Therefore, farmers have to take precautions while buying seedlings. In case only a small tap root is coiled, farmers may nip off that portion. In order to avoid this, our company supplies one-year-old plants, which are easy to transport, and also grow well when planted.

Water Logging

Young plants will be damaged due to excess water during the rainy season in areas that have a heavy rainfall. Ground level should be raised by heaping soil in the plantation area to ensure that water doesn’t get retained during monsoons.

care of saplings


During the deweeding process, identification sticks should be used to ensure the safety of saplings. Sticking will support the plants and thereby help them to grow straight during the first year. In coffee and tea estates, we recommend two additional sticks of longer length around the plant as labourers in these plantations are not familiar with Agar plants. Such sticks will also guard the saplings against animal movement and footing for the first two years. In areca nut farms, sticking will protect the plants from the falling areca palm leaves.   


Once or twice a year, it is recommended to loosen the soil around the saplings by digging or by any other method so that the plant grows well. It’s been advised to dig the soil surrounding the young plants for the first 2 years, until they grow to a height of 4 to 5 ft. This is normally carried out in around 2 ft surrounding the seedlings. Digging will loosen the soil and thereby help the growth of roots. It will also control the weeds, making the place weed-free. Further, it will help water retention, and therefore it is recommended that digging is done once immediately after the rainy season


Mulching the dry leaves surrounding the base of the Agar plant is a very good agricultural practice which helps in many ways. It avoids the growth of weeds; it loosens the soil and helps aeration of the root hairs, thereby helping protect the plant from excess water issues during the rainy season. Mulching also helps in water retention, and therefore it must be followed during summer.

Shade Cover

In the first year of plantation, saplings should be protected against the extreme heat of sun by providing adequate shelter. Shade cover protects the plants from direct sunlight and thereby reduces the water requirement of the plants. Shade cover is not required when the seedlings are planted in a place where there already is sufficient shade, like areca nut farms. Shade covers must be removed before the onset of the rainy season.


Agar (Aquilaria Agallocha) is a medium-sized tree. It can be grown either as a main, mixed or border crop. As the main or monocrop, about 680 Agar seedlings can be planted in an acre of land, with a distance of 8ft X 8ft between plants. In such a scenario, over 6 years, about 10% of the tree will grow about 20 inches in circumference. And such trees can be inoculated in the first round. Subsequently, year after year, the remaining trees can be inoculated depending on their girth. By the time the last round of inoculation and harvesting is completed, trees which were harvested in the first round will be ready for the second crop. 

In another method, about 50% of trees are inoculated in their 8th year, and the remaining trees are allowed to mature for another 2 to 3 years before they are inoculated. Agar tree can also be planted in the high-density planting system, in the dimension of 7ft X 7ft or 6ft X 8ft, where about 800 trees can be planted in an acre. In general, whatever tree you grow, be it teak or mahogany, all the plants will not grow uniformly, and around 20% of them become so thin that they can be pulled out. Similarly, you can expect around 700 Agarwood trees during the final harvest.

In the monocropping system, Agar seedlings can also be planted in a group of 4 plants in one metre distance, and the distance between two such groups can be around 4 metres. This system is good for harvesting the grown up trees year after year. Forests, dry lands or water draining fields are ideal for Agarwood cultivation in the monocropping system. At Vanadurgi, the dimension of planting is advised depending upon water availability, climatic factors, soil type, harvesting plan of each farmer, and so on.

intercrop with coffee

Growing Agar plants in coffee estates as shade trees is very beneficial. With its thin leaves, Agar plants filter sunlight, giving coffee plants only the amount of sunlight they actually need. Moreover, like many other wild plants, the roots of Agar trees too are not harmful to the roots of coffee plants. As compared to silver oak trees, Agar promises good returns in as less a time as possible.

Generally, about 75-100 Agar plants can be planted in Robusta coffee estates, and about 200-300 in Arabica coffee estates that require a lot of shade. In new coffee estates, Agarwood and silver can be planted according to the amount of shade needed for each variety of coffee – Arabica and Robusta. Agarwood starts providing shade from its 3rd year onwards.

Since all the Agarwood trees are not harvested at the same time, shade adjustment can be done with the planting of Agarwood trees and other plants. When Agarwood trees are pruned at regular intervals, factors that foster the production of Agarwood get a boost.

Silver and oak are generally grown in coffee estates for shade and timber. However, these trees bring only limited returns. Pepper being a good inter-crop, suffers from some or the other disease from time to time. Ditto with orange, which gets viral infection that doesn’t have any remedy. Leaves of silver trees are not a good organic source for the soil, and are not environment-friendly in any way. In fact, these leaves hamper the development of orange fruit, too. However, Agarwood is a harmless tree that doesn’t compete with the other crops in any way, and whose leaves turn into organic manure soon.

At present, Agar plants are being grown as an inter-crop in both Arabica and Robusta coffee estates. The shade they provide, their fast growth, and the organic content in their leaves add to the fertility of the soil. Hence, Agarwood plants are ideal to be grown in coffee estates along with orange, pepper and other shade-giving trees. The number of live fungi and bacteria present in the coffee estates of Malnad are ideal for the production of Agarwood. The damage caused by the grafting of Agarwood tree fosters the development of Agar.


in areca nut farms

Areca nut is a traditional crop in the coastal and Malnad regions of Karnataka, and in some parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Goa, too. Areca nut farms are unique in their intercropping system where multiple crops are cultivated in one single place. Pepper, cocoa, vanilla, cardamom, clove, nutmeg and banana are the common intercrops that farmers grow in-between areca nut trees. As Vanadurgi also owns large expanses of areca farms, it has been cultivating Agarwood in Areca farms since 2009. However, it has been recommended in farms which are infected by the Yellow Leaf disease.

About 300 to 400 Agarwood seedlings are advised per acre in such disease-affected farms. The areca nut market was in trouble from 2009 to 2013, and in this period, a number of farmers chose Agarwood as a promising intercrop. Some farmers have planted it wherever empty space was available, numbering to about 50 per acre. Depending on the spacing of areca nut trees, Agarwood is planted in the dimension of 16 ft X 16 ft, in-between alternate areca trees. In some plantations, it’s planted in alternate rows in the dimension of 9 ft X 18 ft. In farms with a lot of shade, they should be planted only in places where sunlight is available. About 2,800 farmers have planted Agarwood as an intercrop in areca nut farms.

intercrop with Rubber

In rubber plantations, no intercrops are successful, but Agar is an exception. Due to the rubber market collapse, rubber growers are looking out for alternative sources of income. In such a situation, growing Agarwood has given them a wonderful opportunity.

Farmers have planted Agarwood in-between 4 rubber trees, numbering to around 200 to 250 trees per acre. In another planting system, farmers have planted Agarwood in a row system, between rows of rubber trees. Here, the distance between the plants is around 7 to 8 ft. This amounts to double the number of Agarwood trees as compared to rubber trees.

Rubber trees shed their leaves in winter, and new leaves sprout before summer. If Agar is planted in the open spaces, it may require water at least once in 2 weeks, especially in the months of April & May. As rubber trees give good shade to Agarwood, they don’t need any water in the summer. 

Both Agar and rubber grow to the same height in the plantation. In this inter-cropping model, as rubber is the main crop and Agar is the secondary crop, farmers should follow proper pruning practices. The company has recommended the restriction of the height of Agar below the branches of rubber trees to avoid competition for sunlight. Therefore, vertical growing stem should be nipped at the height of 18 to 20 ft. About 25 to 30 trees are inoculated and harvested each year, and by this harvesting plan, farmers can earn an annual income.


in cardamom estates

Agar seedlings are naturally growing plants in forest areas, just like cardamom. Since cardamom estates need a good play of shade and light, the cultivation of Agarwood in cardamom estates is beneficial in every manner. In the existing cardamom estates, Agar can be grown in areas where there is not enough shade, so that it can give sufficient shade to cardamom.

In new cardamom estates, they can be grown in rows between cardamom plants. If traditional variety cardamom is cultivated, then about 400 trees are recommended per acre. The number of plants per acre is less in case of Neliyani cardamom variety, which has fast growth with a large canopy. In general, the number and dimension of Agar plants depends on other shade trees, mostly wild forest trees. It has been planted in both shaded areas and places that receive direct sunlight. However, there has been no difference in the quality of plants that were grown in direct sunlight and in well-shaded areas.

Cardamom estates are frequently irrigated, at least on weekly intervals, and there is a lot of application of farm yard manure and fertilisers, which help Agarwood trees grow better. Agar trees in cardamom estates will be ready for inoculation about 1 or 2 years early. These plants also have more leaves as compared to normal trees, which help in the production of a good amount of resin. 


in coconut farms

Agarwood can be grown as an inter-crop even in coconut farms. Agar plants do not compete with coconut trees either for sunlight or root space. When intercropped with coconut, a safe distance of about 10 feet should be maintained so that the coconut leaves do not fall on Agar plants.

Coconut trees are generally planted in the dimension of 25 ft X 25 ft or 30 ft X 30 ft. If coconut trees are in the 25 ft X 25 ft dimension, a single row of Agarwood planting is recommended. And if the coconut trees are planted at 30 ft X 30 ft distance, then two rows of Agar are advised. The distance between the rows can be 6 ft, and the distance between the plants can be 8 ft, in the zigzag fashion. If the seedlings are planted in a single row system, then the distance between the plants can be maintained at 5 ft to 6 ft.

In the single row system, about 300 plants will fit in one acre. And in the 2-row system, 450 plants can fit in one acre. As coconut trees give sufficient shade to Agar trees, water requirement is less for Agarwood. Growing Agarwood as a secondary crop in coconut farms has proven to be an economically viable model. 


intercrop with tea

Agar tree is a good shade tree for tea plantations, and planting this in tea estates is economically beneficial. Traditionally, silver oak is planted as a shade tree. Compared to silver and oak trees, Agar promises good returns in a comparatively lesser time. The growing of Agar in tea estate is a zero-budget practice. The number of plants per acre, and the dimension of plants can be adjusted as per the shade requirement. In general, about 100 to 150 plants are recommended per acre. If Agar trees are planted on top of a hill, they will not tolerate heavy winds. Therefore, nipping the tip of Agar trees at about 18 to 20 ft is recommended. When planted only in the valleys or foothills, there will be no issue of wind. As the leaves of Agar are easily decomposable, the organic content in their leaves adds to the fertility of the soil.

Hence, Agarwood plants are ideal to be grown in tea estates along with silver oak or any other shade-giving wild trees. The number of live fungi and bacteria present in the tea-growing hill stations are ideal for the production of Agarwood. When Agarwood trees are pruned at regular intervals, factors that foster the production of Agarwood get a boost. Moreover, like many other wild plants, the roots of Agar trees, too, are not harmful to the roots of tea. Since all Agarwood trees are not harvested at the same time, shade adjustment can be done with the planting of Agarwood trees upon harvesting of and regeneration of trees on a timely basis.


with palm oil trees

Palm oil production in India is on the priority list. The agricultural model of growing Agarwood along with palm will increase the income per unit area and thereby help in the promotion of palm oil production. In the palm farms, Agar can be planted in the double row system. Dimensions between the rows and plants depends on how the farmer would like to manage his palm trees.

If the double row system is followed, the distance between the rows, and the distance between the plants should be planned at 6 to 7 ft. Seedlings are planted in a zigzag manner. If the single row system is followed, Agar can even be planted at a distance of about 4 ft between the plants. Even if the space between the plants in a row appears to be congested, there is sufficient open space on the other side of the row facing the palm trees, and hence enough sunlight is available for plant growth. If planted in this manner, about 300 to 400 plants will fit in one care. About 10 ft distance is maintained between palm and Agar trees, so that there is enough space for the harvesting of oil palm bunches. As most of the oil palm farms are irrigated, farmers are making provision for the irrigation of Agarwood as well. As the palm trees create an umbrella-type shade cover, which is good for Agarwood tree growth, there is a lot of space for aeration as well.

mixed tree crop

Growing Agarwood in the mixed tree cropping agroforestry model has proven to be very ideal. Agarwood has been planted along with teak or mahogany, jackfruit, kumil teak etc. In such instances, the distance between Agarwood and the other trees is maintained at a minimum of 5 to 7 ft between each species of plant.

As per our experience in the currently growing plantations, if teak and Agarwood are intercropped, about 430 Agarwood and 215 teak trees are the best recommendation per acre. However, a couple of farmers planted equal number of Agarwood and teak in 10 X 10 ft spacing. In such cases, a total of 860 seedlings were planted in 1 acre. In density-planting system, the growth of plants for 3 to 4 years is normal, and later there will be competition between plants for root space and sunlight, leading to the suppression of weak plants.

As agroforestry is a long-term investment model, it’s not attractive for farmers. If Agarwood is planted in-between such timber tree crops, it provides an early slot of income within 10 years, thereby making timber tree cultivation viable.

between malabar neem

Farmers in dry regions are also interested in planting Agarwood because of the lucrative returns it promises. But Agarwood cannot tolerate high temperature and dry climate. For such farmers, the company has developed the unique model of planting Agarwood under some shade trees. It can be successfully cultivated along with tree species like mahogany, teak, silver oak, Malabar neem etc.

The company has developed different tree intermixing models, out of which planting Malabar neem (Milia Dubia) together with Agarwood has proven to be the best suitable system. A lot of farmers plant Malabar neem nowadays, and if they plant Agarwood in-between, they can get income from both the crops at the same place. And cultivating Agarwood in-between Malabar neem does not cost much to farmers.

Various planting dimensions are followed by farmers depending on the spacing of Malabar neem. It’s been noted that planting 200 Malabar neem plants per acre is ideal for the growth of Malabar neem trees. In such instances, about 400 Agarwood trees can be planted in-between. Though the Malabar neem trees are planted in various dimensions, the common spacing is 15 ft X 15ft and 20 ft X 20 ft. When the spacing is 15 ft X 15 ft, Agar plants can be planted at a distance of 7.5 ft alternatively with Malabar neem. In another model, Malabar neem and Agar are planted for every 8 ft in one row, and in the next row, Agar trees can be planted for every 8 ft.

Agarwood will be ready for harvest along with Malabar neem at almost the same time. The harvesting duration of Malabar neem is around 10 years. If Agarwood trees are inoculated in their 7th or 8th year, then the farmer can harvest both the crops together.


as border crop

Planting Agarwood in the border of farmlands, or even in the home gardens is one of the best ways of using land and generating income. In the home gardens of Assam, planting the trees around the boundary of home gardens and fencing the boundary with bamboo flanks is the most common practice. In some houses, trees are planted in close spacing, sometimes at a distance of just 1.5 ft between the trees.

If, for some reason, it is not possible to grow Agar either as the main or inter-crop, such farmers can grow Agarwood as the border crop. While planting it as a border crop, close distance between the trees is recommended. A number of farmers have planted trees in various distances in Karnataka. A distance of 3 ft between the plants is recommended by the company, and it has proven to be the most beneficial. 

Agar can be grown as a border crop in the farmlands of any crop like coffee, areca nut, cardamom etc. In Karnataka, these estates are mostly fenced on the border with wire fence in order to keep cattle and wild animals away. In such instances, Agar should be planted right in line with the fence. When trees grow, barbed wires can be fixed on the trees with nails. In general, stone poles or cement poles are used as fence supports. If Agarwood is planted, it can replace these poles. Further, while inoculating the trees, farmers should inoculate the trees above 6 ft from the ground level so that the fence is not disturbed after the harvest. Trees can also be inoculated alternatively so that new shoots grow after harvest, and the fence is not disturbed.



Agar plants do not require any special irrigational facilities. In the Western Ghats and the hills and plains of Assam, it can grow as any other forest tree, as a rain- fed crop. Only when the plantation is developed in a dry or infertile land, saplings need to be watered thrice a month, from December to May.

When Agar is planted as a rainfed crop, it is advised to plant the seedling in the month of May or June. Planting the seedlings at the onset of monsoon will allow the seedlings to establish the root system before summer. And when the plants are in the shade, they will survive in the first year. It is recommended to do some soil work like digging around the plant in order to maintain moisture during summer. Further, it is recommended to provide shade cover during summer. If the plants survive in the first year, than there will be no problem from the second year onwards, because in the rainy season, the plants will establish a deeper root system.

In coffee estates, we have the practice of irrigating the plantation in summer, once or twice, depending on the early blossom rains. Areca nut, coconut and other farms are irrigated frequently, and the same water is available for Agarwood, too. In the rubber plantation, irrigation is not mandatory because rubber trees have good leaves which protect Agarwood in summer.

Delivering water to trees is essential to ensure proper growth. It is also an expensive and time-consuming process. Drip irrigation facilitates good growth of plants, but initial investment on drip irrigation is high. However, if Agar is planted in a dry region, irrigation should be provided regularly, and in such instances, drip irrigation is recommended.


Agar is a plant that grows naturally, without the application of any fertiliser. If cultivated in forest land or in soil rich in organic content, then there is no need to use manure. Otherwise, the use of chemical fertilisers is in practice, especially while cultivating Agarwood as a commercial crop. At the time of planting, apply pits with 50 grams of phosphorus fertilisers such as Rock Phosphate or Super Phosphate for the better development of roots.

When plants step into their first year, chemical fertiliser (N.P.K) is administered to them in the ratio of 10 g : 10 g : 04 g. The fertiliser meant for any particular year and later should be administered in two instalments. Fertiliser application per plant, per instalment, for the first four years is as follows.

First year N : P : K = 10 g : 10 g : 04 g.

Second year N : P : K = 15 g : 15 g : 06 g.

Third year N : P : K = 20 g : 20 g : 10 g.

Fourth year N : P : K = 30 g : 30 g : 15 g.

Later, year after year, depending on the soil condition and the growth of trees, fertiliser application is increased. When inoculated, the level of nitrogen should be slightly increased during the months of May, June and September to ensure the good formation of resinous wood. The application of nitrogen also helps attract fungi in the natural fungal infection zones.

We have blocks wherein we have installed drip irrigation and fertigation systems. Here, the plants are given water-soluble fertilisers along with drip irrigation. The growth of plants here has shown excellent results. 

The application of cattle yard manure and poultry manure has shown good results in the farm. Farmers following organic practices are recommended to use these natural fertilisers.

leaf caterpillars

Heortia Vitessoides, a leaf-eating carterpillar, is the major insect that causes damage to Agar trees. Sometimes, this may lead to the death of the tree due to the repeated defoliation of leaves. Pest attack is common twice a year during the commencement of the rainy season around May-June, and by the end of the rainy season around September-October. The intensity of this insect damage may vary, depending on rain and other climatic conditions.

The spread of insects and the damage is more in big plantations where trees are available in groups. However, in the smaller farms and forest lands where the trees are scattered, insect damage is not a major problem. So far, no carterpillar attack has been reported in South India.

Damage can be controlled by spraying common insecticides like Malathion, Cloropyriphos etc. It can also be organically controlled by spraying neem oil as well. Apply nitrogen (Urea) for severely infected trees. 


Nematodes are soil-borne, and these are a common threat for several crops. They will damage small and young Agar plants which are 1 or 2 years old. Since the seedlings to be planted are prone to nematode attacks, to ensure pest-free roots, while planting, put 10 g Furadan or Furate pesticide crystals to the pits. Nematodes are not a problem for grown-up trees, and no damage reports have been received so far.

If a farmer is following organic agriculture, add about 250 g of neem cake while planting. If nematode problem is noticed when the plants are grown up, Furadan and Furate are advised in liquid formulations. Depending on the intensity of infection and girth of the tree, 2% liquid formulation, and 10 litres per tree are recommended.


In the recent years, termite problem is common in the estates, especially where timber is harvested. In most cases, termites do not eat live Agar trees. They only eat the dead, decaying material. When young seedlings are planted in these termite-prone estates, they may attack and damage the roots. The main problem of termites is for inoculated trees, where termites first eat the dead wood part in the inoculated area. Later, it will also eat away the resin-formed area, especially when the trees are inoculated for chips. Also, they may nest in the hollow tunnels of the trees which are inoculated for oil.

Confirm the presence of termites, as in many cases the Agar tree may look completely healthy from the outside with no visual signs of mud packing. Evidence may include narrow tunnels through the wood, larger nesting chambers, small white eggs, or the termites themselves. In colonies which make mounds, the nest area is more easily located as it is usually in the central area of the mound structure. 

Prune away any dead or dying branches. Locate the termite colony and destroy it. Application of these pesticides in liquid as well as granular formulation is advised to protect the grown-up trees. It’s been recommended to put 10 g of Furate or Furadan when young seedlings are planted in the estate. Spray liquid termiticide in a 3 ft radius around the base of the infected tree and any other nearby trees that may be close enough for their canopies to touch. Spray the tree trunk itself up to a height of 2 ft. Continue monitoring the tree and the surrounding areas for termite activity. Monitor the infested tree carefully, and repeat the spray treatment if any additional evidence of termites appears.

stem borders

Agarwood-boring insects are the larvae of certain moths and beetles. Stem borers make small holes in Agarwood trees to lay eggs. Borers rarely infest healthy plants growing in their natural environments. These are common when the trees are damaged due to root rot. The visual appearance of the tree is normal from the outside, but one can observe small tunnels on the stem. This is the first indication that roots of this particular tree are damaged due to root rot infections.

Adult borers may locate suitable egg-laying sites by responding to volatile chemicals that emanate from the stressed trees. Adult borers emerge from infested trees before winter. After mating, the females fly to a suitable host and lay eggs on the bark, often in crevices, or around wounds. Hatching occurs about 10 days to 2 weeks later. The young larvae quickly tunnel beneath the bark where they feed and grow. They tunnel and feed under the bark in living wood, destroying water- and sap-conducting tissues.

When young trees are attacked, branches die, and there will be structural weakness. Insecticides applied via basal bark sprays are effective against these bores. Properly-timed bark sprays with contact insecticides can prevent the infestation of susceptible trees. Spraying neem oil is also useful in preventing the insects from boring. This may be done up to a height of 20 ft from the ground, or up to the point of damage.

Importantly, farmers should understand that this is primarily because of root rot infection and create a good drainage, as also soil-drench the affected tree with fungicides. By doing so, the trees will be free from insect bores by the very next season.

root fungal infections

Root rot fungus problem is seen in water-stagnant low-lying areas, especially where Agarwood is planted in damp soil or paddy fields. In such areas, Agarwood root rot infections are reported by several farmers. In the Malnad region, during heavy rains, this is a problem. In places where there is poor drainage, roots are infected by the fungus, which causes root rot. While leaves breathe through stomata, stems breathe through lenticels, and roots through the root hairs, which are the key organs of the plants. Heavy rains and excess water can block the pores in the soil, and in damp soil, pores are naturally very less. Due to excess water, root hairs die. When root hairs die, there will be oxygen deficiency in the roots, and finally the roots will die. When roots die, the leaves of the tree turn yellow and shed down. If the roots of the plants are completely dead, then it’s not possible to revive the tree. However, if the root infection is in its primary stage, than we can control the fungal infection and help the tree in its recovery. In order to avoid fungal infections, remove excess damp soil around the base of the plants; put leaves and other farm waste in the base of the plants, which create more root hairs; make sufficient depth drainage in order to avoid water getting stagnant; treat the infected plant with 1% Bordeaux mixture before the rainy season and whenever there are signs of fungal infections. Weak plants are more vulnerable to diseases than the healthy ones. Unless the climate is damp, water the infected trees frequently in summer to prevent them from drying out, and to encourage their healthy growth.

stem fungal infections

Fungal diseases attack the tree bark, leaving large rot wounds that may partially or fully damage the Agarwood trees. Fungal infections are common in Agar trees, especially in the heavy-raining areas where the annual rainfall is over 100 inches or more. Infections are spotted in both the young plants and mature trees. Mechanical injuries and inoculation wounds are the main reasons identified for the bark fungal infections in Agarwood.

During inoculation, the bark of the tree is damaged. There are several wounds on the stem, especially when bamboo stick techniques are used. Also, when surface inoculation technique is practised, there is a large wounded area on one side of the bark. Such areas will create ready sites for fungal infections. However, if there is a sufficient dry period, then the wound sites will heal. To avoid infections, inoculate the trees after the rainy season, or in the summer. There are less chances of bark fungal infections when trees are inoculated with the whole-tree inoculation techniques as only a few inoculation holes are done on the trees. Inoculation reduces the immunity power of trees and therefore these trees are more susceptible for fungal bark infections. 

Pruning wounds are susceptible to infections. To avoid this, prune after the rainy season, or in the summer. Pruning wounds heal well in warm weather, while fungal diseases run rampant during the rainy season. Prune trees properly by making cuts outside the branch bark ridge, about 1 to 2 ft from the main stem. This can prevent the need for major pruning when the trees are older and more susceptible to wood decay. With extreme decay fungi, damaged tree branches may snap when heavy rains speed up the rotting process.

The company recommends the spraying of contact fungicides to prevent bark fungal infections. Bordeaux mixture is showing good results in the field. About 1 to 1.5% Bordeaux mixture spray in about 2 to 5 litres of water per tree, twice a year, at the commencement of the rainy season, and mid-rainy season, is recommended. If fungus has already destroyed parts of a tree, you can prevent it from spreading to the rest of the bark with fungicides. After the initial application to coat the surface of the tree, keep up the barrier with follow-up applications, especially when you spot new growth that needs protection. Also, keep in mind that fungicides are effective against diseases only for a limited time. For example, Bordeaux mixture is effective only for 40 to 50 days. Rather than spraying a general fungicide, farmers can avail professional assessment for support service from the company.

pruning of the tree

Pruning of the tree is an important agricultural practice. The company recommends the restriction of the vertical growth of an Agarwood tree to about 20 ft height from the ground level. When the tip of the tree is nipped, the vertical growth of the tree can be stopped.

The practice of restricting the height of the tree has the following benefits:


  • The tree falling down due to heavy wind currents can be avoided.
  • Girth of the main stem will increase faster.
  • The tree will be ready for inoculation early by almost 2 years.
  • Easy to climb the tree for inoculation.
  • Good for other intercrops.
Further, lateral shoots can also be chopped off by leaving about 2 ft from the main stem. If the lateral shoots are chopped at the base of the main stem, there are chances that the shoots may die, but if they are chopped leaving 2 ft, new shoots will grow from the chopped area, and there will be shoots from the bottom portion of the tree as well. Leaves work as kitchens for the production of resin, and hence it’s important to maintain the lateral shoots and leaves. Further, resin formation is better in places near the leaves. Therefore, practising this pruning system will help to grow leaves all around the tree and thereby increase the production of Agarwood. Pruning of branches causes cuts on the bark of the tree, making the tree susceptible to fungal attacks, and thereby assisting the production of Agarwood.

harvesting of the tree

Factors such as the age of the tree or the size of the tree trunk cannot decide the harvest time of commercially grown Agarwood. Agarwood trees can be harvested only when the production of the aromatic trunk is complete, and the tree starts drying up. Generally, when Agarwood is grown as a commercial crop, harvesting has to be done at a specified time for certain trees, making it a constant operation. March to May is the right time for harvesting, and within the commencement of the rainy season, harvested trees will produce new shoots. Care should be taken to see that harvested trees do not die due to stress. And, if required, it’s recommended to provide timely irrigation. On an average, if commercially grown Agarwood trees catch fungal infection when they are 7 to 8 years old, then they are ready for harvest around their 10th year. Going by this timeframe, returns from Agarwood trees can be expected 8 to 10 years after they are planted. At Vanadurgi, we have already harvested trees which were first inoculated in 2014. And the quality of Agarwood produced was satisfactory. Encouraged by this success, new technologies with better production in terms of quality and quantity of the material has been introduced, and is now under use. After the harvesting, the tree will be allowed to regenerate for the next crop, which will be earlier than the first harvest. Few farmers in the naturally cultivated sandalwood zones ask us whether Agarwood trees can be poached as sandalwood. It is not easy to poach Agarwood as the tree can be harvested only after it is inoculated and dries up. And, inoculation can be done as per our convenience. Moreover, the identification and separation of Agarwood produce takes a very long time, thus making it difficult for poachers to steal the produce. Moreover, since facilities are in place for national and international traders to buy Agarwood directly from the company, there is no room for local sales for poachers to depend on.

regeneration of the tree

Agarwood coppicing is the management technique of harvesting and felling trees at the base and allowing them to regrow in order to provide a sustainable supply of Agarwood. This practice has a number of benefits over replanting, as the felled trees have already developed root systems, making the regrowth quicker and less susceptible to browsing and shading.

Agar shoots develop at the base of harvested Agar trees, grow very fast, and will be ready for the next round of inoculation in 5 to 6 years. Since the area is already rich in fungi, the infection of the regenerated tree is much faster, promising planters good returns.

The second crop of Agar trees depends on the inoculation technique used. However, if the roots have been infected, then regeneration is not possible. If the trees are inoculated by the whole tree inoculation technique wherein the medicine may be spread to the whole tree, including the roots, then the second crop is not possible. In such cases, roots are also pulled out after harvesting the tree.

When trees are inoculated, we recommend leaving 2 ft from the ground level. Cutting the tree at this height will encourage better growth of new shoots as compared to harvesting them at ground level. Within two months of harvesting, new shoots start growing from the harvested area. By removing the weak shoots, only two good shoots. Select the shoots that are in the opposite direction so that both will grow without competing for sunlight, and the wound around the harvested area will also heal well.

New growth emerges, and after a few years, the coppiced tree is harvested, and the cycle begins anew. Coppicing maintains the trees at a juvenile stage, and a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age.


Agarwood coppicing is the management technique of harvesting and felling trees at the base and allowing them to regrow in order to provide a sustainable supply of Agarwood. This practice has a number of benefits over replanting, as the felled trees have already developed root systems, making the regrowth quicker and less susceptible to browsing and shading.

Agar shoots develop at the base of harvested Agar trees, grow very fast, and will be ready for the next round of inoculation in 5 to 6 years. Since the area is already rich in fungi, the infection of the regenerated tree is much faster, promising planters good returns.

The second crop of Agar trees depends on the inoculation technique used. However, if the roots have been infected, then regeneration is not possible. If the trees are inoculated by the whole tree inoculation technique wherein the medicine may be spread to the whole tree, including the roots, then the second crop is not possible. In such cases, roots are also pulled out after harvesting the tree.

When trees are inoculated, we recommend leaving 2 ft from the ground level. Cutting the tree at this height will encourage better growth of new shoots as compared to harvesting them at ground level. Within two months of harvesting, new shoots start growing from the harvested area. By removing the weak shoots, only two good shoots. Select the shoots that are in the opposite direction so that both will grow without competing for sunlight, and the wound around the harvested area will also heal well.

New growth emerges, and after a few years, the coppiced tree is harvested, and the cycle begins anew. Coppicing maintains the trees at a juvenile stage, and a regularly coppiced tree will never die of old age.