In the Catalan forests, cork lifting, a "undressing" delicate to the ancestral technique

The season has started and will continue until the end of August. In Aspres, Albères and Vallespir in particular, cork lifters are in action in the Catalan forests. The cork plantation of the Pyrénées-Orientales is the largest in Occitanie, at least 150 tonnes of cork should be taken, to supply the cork companies. The operation requires precision and know-how through 4 steps.

Renaud Piazzetta, director of the Mediterranean Cork Institute in Vivès (66), carried out the exercise.

Renaud Piazzetta uses a Catalan “picasse”.
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First of all, the lifter must evaluate the phytosanitary state of the cork oak, if it is bad (defoliation, wounds, parasite…), the slowed sap circulation will not allow the bark to peel off.

The crown at the top and bottom allows you to choose the height of the sample.

The crown at the top and bottom allows you to choose the height of the sample.
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Then he makes the crown, straight or bevelled, by a circular cut at the desired height at the top and bottom.

The lifter uses the beveled handle of his ax as a lever.

The lifter uses the bevelled handle of his ax as a lever.
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The trunk being cylindrical, the cut will be made in plank. The lifter uses the natural slits in the cork to make these vertical cuts, turning the ax to loosen the bark.

A "undressing" in order, without damaging the matrix of the tree.  The next withdrawal will not take place before 12 or 15 years.

A “stripping” in order, without damaging the matrix of the tree. The next withdrawal will not take place before 12 or 15 years.
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Finally comes the detachment: the lifter uses the bevelled handle of his ax which he introduces between the cork and the mother. This lever movement will separate the board from the trunk, starting at the top to take it off along its entire length.

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