In northeastern region of India, large areas are covered by dense forests. Where land has been cleared for cultivation, especially in the plains, the field form a patchwork of green and yellow stretching to the horizon. Cultivated plots are punctuated by islands of bamboo and palm which surrounded the dwellings in the plains. Hilly areas support dense tropical rain forest, these forest represent an immense natural resource providing a wide range of palms including canes, numerous species of grasses, reeds and bamboo.
Canes or rattans are long, slender stems of certain trailing or climbing palms. In wet, tropical, evergreen forests, canes form impenetrable thickets generally with a few trees standing over them. They require a constant and abundant water supply for optimum development. Canes are usually cylindrical and of uniform thickness, solid , straw-yellow to brown in color.
Processing of cane.
In order to obtain good quality canes, its is essential to process them properly after harvesting. The imported Malaysian canes are often superior to Indian canes on account of their good color, smoothness, flexibility and durability. This superiority is mainly due to correct method of harvesting and processing. The methods adopted for processing canes are as fellows:
Collection: canes are considered to be ripe for harvesting when the leaf-sheath starts loosening and the lowest part of the stem is exposed. The top 2 meters of the shoot is discarded as it is soft, tender and unfit for use.the remaining portion is cut and dried.
Desilication: the silica layer is removed by rubbing the freshly-felled cane over a knife or a sharp piece of bamboo. Alternately, the cane may be steeped in water, straightened out, rubbed with sand and dried.
Bleaching: after desilication the cane is bleached in order to obtain a fine creamy color. It is generally done in forest by fumigation with burning sulfur. It also provide protection against insect attack.
Polishing: after desilication and bleaching, the cane needs to be polished to restore the luster which is lost during the former processes. The stem are polished with soap-stone or with a woolen rag which has some siliceous hairs from the leaf-sheaths of bamboo placed on it.
Smoking treatment: some of the Malacca cane are treated by smoking over a fire and then polishing them with coconut oil. This process gives them a fine reddish-brown color.
Grading: after processing, the canes are graded and sorted according to color and thickness. They are tired together in bundles of 100, and stored for marketing.