BEIJING—Yunnan Natural Rubber Industry Group, China's top natural rubber producer, has suspended tapping at some of its plantations across Yunnan province following drought conditions and pest infestations since this spring.
Yunnan Rubber has about 82,500 acres of plantation and 48 processing plants with 500,000 metric tons of annual capacity.
The drought, heat and ensuing six-spotted mite infestation has hit an array of its plantations, according the company's website.
Nearly 18 acres of plantations in Pu'er or 91 percent of the prefecture's total, stopped tapping by May 15, Yunnan Rubber said.
All of Ximeng county's 19,768 acres of 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 4,450-acre plantation in Laos, which partially suspended tapping in early April and came to a full stop by May 15.
Two processing plants in Xishuangbanna, another heavily hit area, paused production by mid May. The prefecture's daily dry rubber yield plummeted to 100 tons compared with 600 tons 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, Yunnan Rubber said.
The company has set up infestation monitoring spots in its plantations and is providing free-of-charge prevention or treatment to the farmers.
It also has switched to the shallow tapping method in less-affected areas.