Zdjêcia

Photographer's Note

"The life cycle of cork as a raw material starts with the extraction of the bark from cork oaks, the so-called harvesting or stripping which is carried out during the most active stage in the annual growth of the cork, from mid-May or early June to the end of August.

However not many people know that it takes 25 years for cork oak trunk to start to produce cork and be profitable. Each trunk has to reach a circumference of 70 cm when measured at 1.5 metres from the ground. From then on, the cork can be harvested from the tree for on average 150 years.

The first stripping, which is known as "desbóia", produces cork of a very irregular structure which is too hard to be easily handled. This is the so-called virgin cork which will be used for applications other than cork stoppers (flooring, insulation etc.), since its quality is far from that necessary to manufacture stoppers.

Nine years later, the second harvest produces material with a regular structure, less hard, but still not suitable for cork stoppers - this is known as secondary cork.

It is from the third and subsequent harvests that the cork with the best properties is obtained, suitable for the production of quality corks, since its structure is regular with a smooth outside and inside. This is the so-called "amadia" or reproduction cork. From then on, the cork oak will supply good quality cork every nine years for around a century and a half, producing, on average, 15 to 16 bark strippings throughout its life.

The stripping of the cork oak is an ancient process that can only (and should only) be done by specialists, the debarkers, since much manual skill and experience is required in order not to harm the tree."
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Additional Photos by Julio Sa Ferreira (Jardim) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 500 W: 176 N: 400] (3243)
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