Lac Culture Notes PDF for AFO & NABARD

Lac Culture Notes

Introduction to Lac Culture

  • Lac is a resinous kind of substance that is excreted by the lac glands of lac worms. Mass rearing of lac worms for business production of Lac is known as Lac Culture.
  • The Atharva Veda described the Lac worm as “Laksha,” which means 1 lakh in Sanskrit.
  • The Mahabharata epic mentions that the Kauravs built a lacquer house using the expertise of their architect Puroch.
  • Abul Fazal wrote about Lac in his book Aina-e-Akbari.
  • In 1782, Mr J. Kerr scientifically described the Lac worm and named it Coccus lacca.
  • In 1812, Oken gave the Lac worm its genus name, Laccifer, and it began to be known as Laccifer lacca.
  • In 1913, Mr Mehndi Hasan named it Lashadia indica, but later it was named Lacifer indica by Mr A.B Mishra in 1930 and Lacca indicola by A.P Kapoor.
  • Mr Glover later renamed it Laccifer lacca, which was then changed to Kerria lacca in recent years, named after an explorer.
  • India is the major lac-producing country accounting for 70-80% of the world’s total production.
  • The maximum lac-producing state is Jharkhand.
  • The first scientific account of the lac insects (Laccifer lacca, Lacciferidae, Homoptera) was given by Dr. J. Kerr in 1782.
  • A detailed account of the lac insect is given by Roxburgh.
  • The two strains of lac produced in India are Kusumi and Rangeeni.
  • Kusum lac is reared on Kusum (Scleichera oleosa)
  • Kusum lac is good quality lac due to the lighter color of resin but contributes 10% of total production.

Host Plants

  • Kusum: Schleichera oleosa
  • Ber: Zizyphus spp.
  • Khair: Acacia catechu
  • Babul: Acacia nilotica
  • Shisham: Delbergia sisoo
  • Fig: Ficus carica
  • Palas/Dhak: Butea monosperma

Lac Cultivation

Lac culture involves three important steps

(I). Inoculation

(II). Swarming

(III). harvesting

(I) Inoculation

The process of introducing lac insects to a new host plant is referred to as inoculation.

1. Natural Inoculation: Natural inoculation occurs when insects spread infection from one plant to another through natural movement. This can happen when there is an overpopulation of insects and a lack of tender shoots on a specific tree.

2. Artificial infection: To prepare for artificial infection, lac-bearing sticks are cut to six inches and referred to as “Brood lac,” which are then kept in a cool place for about two weeks. After this time, the larvae begin to emerge from the Brood lac, indicating they are ready for inoculation.

(II) Swarming

Swarming is the most important stage of the life cycle of Lac worms. Therefore it is very important for a person doing lac production, to have correct knowledge of the date of swarming. Muscles of nymph compress during swarming and the worm gets detached from the joining place. In this way, it leaves a hollow cavity which later gets covered by lac.

(III) Harvesting

Harvesting refers to cutting branches covered with lac from host plants and collecting the lac. Lac crops are harvested when they become mature.

The Ari crop is cut in April-May, Kataki crops in October-November, Ahgani in January-February, and Jitvin and Baisakhi are harvested during June-July.

There are many types of lacs which are as mentioned below:
1. Ari Lac: Lac which gets cut in the raw state, i.e cut before the crop gets mature.
2. Stick Lac: When the crop gets mature, lac obtained in form of branches is known as stick lac.
3. Grain lac: Lac which falls down from branches and is obtained after washing it.
4. Dust lac: Lac obtained after grinding grain lac minutely, is known as dust lac.
5. Chapra Lac: Lac obtained when grain lac and dust lac gets heated and a thin crust gets formed, is known as Chapra lac.

(IV) Scrapping of brood lac

After the babies emerge from the lac chambers, the branches are opened, and the lac can be scraped out using a knife. When scraping the lac, care should be taken to avoid cutting it into very small pieces.

(V) Washing of Lac

Scrapped lac is known as stick lac, which is rubbed and washed thoroughly with water. It produces kind of a colour which is known as lac dye. It is dried in shade.

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