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Old 02-05-2019, 11:01 PM   #1
xoxoxoBruce
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Feb 6th, 2019: Cork

♫ And put in your ear plugs
Put on your eye shades
♫ You know where to put the cork
I know where to put the cork, but where do I get one

Ladies and Gentleman and Children of all ages. At great trouble and expense we present to you.
~The Whistler~ 2018 European Tree of the Year ~234 year old CORK OAK (QUERCUS SUBER)



Quote:
The Whistler owes the name to the sound from countless birds that lay on its branches. Planted in 1783 in Águas de Moura, this cork oak has already been stripped more than twenty times. In addition to the contribution to the cork industry, it has huge relevance for ecosystem services and fighting climate change. With 234 years, the Whistler has been classified as "Tree of Public Interest" since 1988 and is registered in the Guinness Book of Records: "the largest cork oak in the world".

Trees can be useful in many ways. They can provide food through fruits or nuts, building materials by milling their trunks, or shade in cities beneath their canopies. But the Quercus suber has been used for centuries for a different purpose: its bark is the source of cork. The versatile material can be harvested many times throughout a tree’s lifetime, but one particular tree in Portugal is so large that it produced more cork in a single harvest than most others in their entire life cycles.


Quote:
The first harvest, called ‘desboia’, produces poor quality cork, and needs to be processed heavily before use. The next harvest doesn’t happen for another 9 – 18 years, until the second harvest, or ‘secundeira’, takes place. This harvest is slightly higher quality, but still unfit for bottle stoppers.
Starting with the third harvest, more than 50 years since its planting, cork oaks produce high quality material. The bark is stripped with an ax, carefully as not to damage the tree itself, and left outdoors for 6 months to stabilize. Most of it is destined to become bottle stoppers, which continue to be hugely popular for another legendary Mediterranean product: wine.

No where in the world are cork trees more common than in Portugal. They are also common in Spain, but for various reasons cork production has been concentrated in Portugal. Currently the small country produces half of all cork worldwide. Spain comes in second at 31%, and Morocco a distant third.
The significance of cork trees in Portugal has been recognized for centuries. It makes up 23% of the countries forests, and the first laws protecting the trees date all the way back to the 13th century. A law passed in the 1970s made it a crime to cut down a cork tree, dead or alive, without explicit permission from the government. In 2011, it was made the national tree of Portugal by unanimous vote.


Quote:
Cork is a fundamental part of the Portuguese economy, accounting for 1% of the country’s GDP and 3% of total exports. A total of 12 000 people are employed full-time in the cork industry, while a mammoth 100 000 are involved during the harvesting season.
Portugal needs the cork industry and the 12 billion cork stoppers that are annually produced by this entire industry is a key part of the business.


Quote:
“At €100 per hour, cork harvesting is the world’s highest paying seasonal, agricultural job. This highly specialised work sustains many families”; explains Carlos. Although this work is unlikely to be mechanised, Amorim CEO Antonio Amorim indicated that more precise farming methods involving cork trees could be the way of the future.
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Old 02-06-2019, 06:46 AM   #2
Griff
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That's a nice gig.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:20 AM   #3
Gravdigr
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I knew cork came from trees, but didn't know they were oaks.

Cool IOTD, Bruce. Thx.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:22 AM   #4
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...makes up 23% of the countries forests...
Is that to say that 23% of the trees in Portuguese forests are cork oaks? Or did I do that wrong?
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:58 AM   #5
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Requiring a government permit to get cut down is a good evolutionary strategy.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:38 AM   #6
Diaphone Jim
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I have consumed way more than my share of wine over the last 60 years and worked in the industry for a good part of those.
I have pulled too many corks by far and now regard the usage of screw top closures a great plus in my current shopping.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:46 AM   #7
Undertoad
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Disappoint. This thread is up 12 hours and nobody's made any cork soaker jokes yet.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:16 PM   #8
Gravdigr
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You farging insensitive bastidge. I lost my cork soaker on 9/11.
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Old 02-06-2019, 08:17 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diaphone Jim View Post
I have consumed way more than my share of wine over the last 60 years and worked in the industry for a good part of those.
I have pulled too many corks by far and now regard the usage of screw top closures a great plus in my current shopping.
I've saved a cork or two from drowning m'self.
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:51 PM   #10
xoxoxoBruce
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Originally Posted by Gravdigr View Post
Is that to say that 23% of the trees in Portuguese forests are cork oaks? Or did I do that wrong?
You got it right, it's a relatively small country compared to the other cork producers but turns out 50% of the worlds production.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:15 PM   #11
sexobon
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This thread reminds me, I have a few bottles of vintage Port that need drinking over the next year. There's a Fonseca, a Dow's, and a Quinto do Vesúvio all from the great 1994 vintage. The wines in the bottles could possibly go on for decades if they remained tightly stoppered; however, corks become iffy after about 25 years and I'm not positioned to have them recorked. Their time has come.
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Old 02-07-2019, 07:29 PM   #12
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That's a shame that you have to drink those.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:00 PM   #13
BigV
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I feel a little... profligate for having simply thrown (so many of) them away now #hoarder.
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Old 02-08-2019, 12:58 PM   #14
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I got bags of corks. Somewhere. They all say Sutter Home. Bartendress wanted me to make her something w/them, I forget what.
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