The initial challenges to cultivating Santalum are numerous, not only due to its germination and growth needs, but also the amount of growing time required for the tree to properly mature. Germination of Santalum seeds is not completely understood. Seeds cannot be effectively stored, and must be planted upon harvesting them from a fruiting tree. Even in doing this, the seeds may not germinate. As such, growing saplings can be quite labour intensive.
Furthermore, although Santalum trees photosynthesize on their own, the trees are semiparasitic, with roots that seek out and tap the root systems of surrounding trees for water and nutrients. As such, each sapling is usually grown next to four or five host trees. Pruning of host trees is also needed at times, since Santalum trees require much sunlight for growth.
To produce commercially valuable sandalwood with high levels of fragrance oils, the trees have to be at least 40 years of age, but 80 or above is preferred. As such, those who begin cultivation of Santalum will not live to reap the rewards of their work. However, inferior sandalwood that has been cut or toppled at 30 years old can still fetch a decent price due to the demand for real sandalwood.
Beyond these initial difficulties, growing sandalwood-producing Santalum is not difficult, since it becomes more resistant to environmental stresses, pests, and diseases as it matures.
Read more about this topic: Santalum
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