The Cork Maturation Process: Importance and Key Factors
Cork maturation is an essential step in the production of high-quality materials based on this natural resource. It is during this process that cork bales in sheet form go through a critical period of stabilization, which lasts for at least 12 months. This stage is fundamental to ensure the cellular stabilization of cork and the elimination of any residue of ‘green cork,’ an early phase of cork that has not yet reached its optimal characteristics.
However, the success of the maturation process depends not only on its duration but also on the conditions in which it takes place. Factors such as the climate of the location where maturation occurs can significantly influence the final product’s quality. Proper maturation should consider aspects such as:
• Weather protection: It is vital to protect the cork from adverse weather conditions, such as rain, extreme sun, or humidity, which can affect its quality.
• Isolation: Ensuring that the cork is in an isolated place free from external contaminants is essential to maintain its integrity.
• Arrangement: The way cork bales are stacked and organized can influence how they are ventilated and, consequently, their maturation.
Therefore, to obtain high-quality cork, it is essential not only to respect the minimum maturation time but also to ensure ideal maturation conditions. At Parramon Exportap, the cork maturation warehouse was constructed with perfect orientation, considering climatic factors. The sun rises from the east and impacts the entire length of one side of the warehouse, progresses throughout the day, and in the afternoon impacts the entire length of the other side of the warehouse. The northern wind ‘Tramontana’ blows from north to south in the warehouse, aiding in the drying process.
When executed correctly, this process ensures that the cork mass to be processed is of the highest possible quality, resulting in durable and high-performance end products.
Environmental sustainability: The entire roof of the warehouse is covered with solar panels that generate 45% of the plant’s total energy needs. Rainwater from this roof is directed to a well, where it is stored and used for the subsequent hydration process.