Harvest | Amorim Cork Flooring


A new life, every 9 years

Cork planks are the result of the harvesting process that enables the endless applications of cork across wildly diverse industries, such as cork flooring. 

Cork planks are the result of the harvesting process that enables the endless applications of cork across wildly diverse industries, such as cork flooring. 

After 25 years the Cork Oak tree is ready for the first harvest. Subsequent harvests will happen in 9 year cycles after that between May and August. This is the period when the cork oak tree is at its most active phase of growth and is easier to strip. 
Cork harvesting is, until today, a handcrafted job that requires years of practice and a know-how that crosses generations. In order to preserve the cork oak tree, it has to be done by highly trained and skillful individuals. 
Trees are never cut down during this process and the cork bark will regenerate itself after each harvest. The cork oak actually increases its ability to absorb CO2 during this natural regeneration process.  
Cork oak forests are a perfect example of the balance between preserving the environment and sustainable development - just the fact that no tree is cut down during cork harvesting is a unique case in terms of sustainability. 
The cork industry and its related activities help to maintain thousands of jobs and keeps people on their land. According to the WWF – World Wild Fund for Nature, over 100.000  people in southern Europe and North Africa directly and indirectly depend on these forests. In Portugal alone, which boasts the largest area of cork oak forest in the world, around 700 companies directly depend on this economy; involving around 8300 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs (catering, tourism, etc.).

The harvesting stages


1st harvest

After approximately 25 years and when the trunk circumference reaches 70 cm when measured 1.3 meters from the ground. The extracted cork is highly irregular.


2nd harvest

Happens 9 years after (minimum). The cork form the first two harvests does not meet the requirements for natural cork stoppers production. Therefore, this cork is used for other applications instead, such as cork flooring.


3rd harvest

Occurs 9 years after. The tree enters in a 9 year harvesting cycle. A cork oak tree can be harvested between 15 to 18 times during its lifespan as these are trees that can live up to 200 years. Only the cork extracted from this phase forward meets the requirements for the production of natural cork stoppers.

Myths and Facts

What are the ideal growing conditions for the cork oak?

The cork oak is native to the Western Mediterranean Basin, where there are ideal growing conditions:
Sandy, chalk-free soils with low nitrogen and phosphorus, high potassium and a pH from 4.8 to 7.0;
Rainfall from 400-800 mm per year;
Temperature from -5 ºC to 40 ºC;
Altitude from 100-300 m.

How long does a cork oak live?

A cork oak has an average lifespan of over 200 years.

Which is the largest and oldest cork oak in the world?

The oldest and most productive cork oak in the world is the Whistler Tree, in Águas de Moura, in the Alentejo region (South of Portugal). The cork oak was planted in 1783, stands over 14 metres tall and the diameter of its trunk is 4.15 metres. In 2018, the Whistler Tree, representing Portugal, was voted European Tree of the Year. Its name comes from the noise made by the numerous songbirds that shelter among its branches. Since 1820, it has been harvested over twenty times. Its 1991 harvest produced 1200 kg of cork, more than most cork oaks yield in a lifetime. This single harvest produced over one hundred thousand cork stoppers.

Does the cork oak need to be cut down to harvest the cork?

No. Stripping is carried out manually and the trees are never cut down. After each stripping, the cork oak undergoes an original process of self-regeneration of the bark, which gives the activity of cork harvesting a uniquely sustainable nature.

Are cork oaks ancient trees?

Yes. Some scholars argue that the existence of cork oaks dates back over 60 million years. It has been scientifically proven that cork oaks survived the ice age in the Mediterranean Basin, over 25 million years ago. In Portugal, where the largest cork oak forest area in the world is found, a fossil fragment over ten million years old was discovered which is testament to the ancient existence of this tree in the country.

The Cork Oak is Portugal’s National Tree

At the end of 2011, the cork oak was unanimously established as Portugal's National Tree. This classification is directly related to the economic, social and environmental performance that it represents to the country. Around 23% of Portugal's forest area is made up of cork oaks, which support the country's main industry, besides providing a fundamental contribution against social desertification and making an unparalleled contribution to the preservation of the biodiversity associated with the cork oak forest. 
The cork oak's importance in Portugal has been recognised since the 13th century, a time when the first laws arose for the protection of the species.
In Portugal the felling of cork oak trees is prohibited by law and each cork oak is individually identified, in order to ensure its absolute traceability.

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