The most expensive wood in the world could be sandalwood tree. The highest quality sandalwood variety can fetch a price of up to Rs 10,000 per kg. The sale and processing of sandalwood is fully under control of the government.
Sandalwood is widely cultivated in India and Australia. Natural sandalwood trees can be found in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh in India.
In Kerala, sandalwood trees are growing in natural habitat in an area of 63 sq. km. at Marayur in Idukki district. 211 forest guards are appointed for the protection of these sandalwood trees. Many cases of sandalwood smuggling are reported from here every year. Sandalwood trees are protected by law.
A prior permission should be sought from the government in order to cut sandalwood trees from protected forest area or eco-sensitive zones. Even when sandalwood is cut from a private property, government permission is required.
About 7-8 months old saplings that have grown up to a height of one feet are planted for cultivation. Ideal pH value of soil is between 6.5 and 7.5.
Dig holes that have 1.5 feet length, width and depth leaving a distance of 3 metres between them.
Fill the holes with cow dung powder and soil before planting the saplings.
Sandalwood trees require only moderate irrigation. Too much watering will perish the plant.
Sandalwood roots need presence of other plants at a distance of 1.5-2 metres in order to easily absorb nutrients from the soil.
The roots absorb nutrients partially from the roots of other plants.
Choose papaya, sapota, pigeon peas or quick stick (Seemakkonna) as rotation crops in sandalwood plantations for nutrient absoption.
In natural habitat, weeds like mimosa will help growth of sandalwood trees. But only limited number of weeds should be allowed in the initial phase of farming.
After a mediocre growth till 7-8 years, the tree will start growing one kg per year.
The bark will be formed by the time the tree turns 15 years old.
When it is fully grown, the tree will have a length of 13-16 metre and a diameter of 1-2 metre.
No chemical pesticides or fertilisers are used.
Sandalwood trees are normally uprooted rather than being chopped off, because even its roots fetch a high price according to its weight.