The cork oak in Spain, varieties and care with sensors

One of the latest crops that is interesting to farmers is the cork oak in Spain. The second country in production worldwide.

It is very abundant in several regions, as the map shows, but lately production is spreading and new intensive cork oak plantations appear.

Cork oak in Spain
Cork oak in Spain

Characteristics of the cork oak in Spain

It is a characteristic tree of the Mediterranean area. You need special conditions such as:

  • Mild climate with medium temperature.
  • Intense frosts do not favor it.
  • A minimum of rainfall or controlled irrigation that benefits the growth of the layers that form the bark and the fruit of the acorn.
  • Wide root system with vigorous and deep roots.
  • Favorable terrain, basically sandy.
  • Oak acorn-type fruit very appropriate for livestock feed, especially for fattening Iberian pigs.
  • It favors biodiversity, the production of mushrooms, honey, medicinal plants and others.

Terrenos idóneos del alcornoque

Some varieties of cork oak in Spain

  • Pure cork oak forests in southern Spain.
  • Deciduous cork oak in the north, Galicia and Asturias.
  • Pyrenean cork oak forest in the area of ​​Catalonia.
  • Cork oak with gall in Extremadura, Andalusia, Ciudad Real and Toledo.
  • Continental cork oak forests in Salamanca and Ávila.

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Cork composition

Cork is a superposition of layers of dead cells in a polyhedral shape, filled with nitrogen, which makes it such a lightweight material.

In addition, its composition is very flexible, resistant to fire and does not rot easily.

Esta capa protege al árbol de enfermedades e insectos. Cada primavera se incrementa su grosor, de tal forma que se extrae la corteza cuando se considera suficiente ancha para que se puedan cortar los corchos.

It helps the tree to remove the bark and begin to form new layers.

The first bark (bornizo) is extracted 37 years after the cork oak plantation. Then another crust can be produced in about 7 to 8 years, as the scheme indicates.

The life of a traditional cork oak is between 300 and 500 years.

Esquema del corcho
Cork oak wood scheme: 1-Bark. 2-Lenticels. 3-Annual growth rings. 4-Cut a cork stopper. 5-Cork. 6-Base. 7-Feloderm. 8-Liber. 9-Wood.

Cork applications

It is a product with multiple applications:

Manufacture of bottle caps.

Insulators and thermal shields.

Floor and wall coverings.

Footwear, bags and clothes.

Cork paper and others.

El alcornoque en España
The cork oak in Spain. 1-Bark of the cork. 2-stored barks. 3-Tree without bark. 4-Cork ready for use.

Also the wood of the cork oak is very appreciated for barrels, boats and firewood.

Intensive cork oak in Spain

At present and as we have already indicated in other articles, agriculture is modernizing. Olive, walnut, pistachio, intensive and super intensive almond plantations appear.

Also the cork oak is in an experimental phase with intensive plantations with drip irrigation and fertilizers that aspire to produce its first layer of cork in 8 years. The duration of the tree also decreases considerably in this type of plantation.

Currently there are intensive plantations in Alentejo (Portugal) and communities such as Extremadura and Castilla la Mancha are becoming interested in this type of plantation.

At this point Plantae intervenes with the intelligent sensors of soil humidity, conductivity and temperature. We control that the plantations do not suffer hydric stress and that they have the contribution of humidity they need, for the production of bark and also acorns.

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