India and Thailand are the main countries where lac is cultivated. Over 90% of Indian lac comes from the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Orissa.
The principal lac hosts in India are Palas and Ber of the Rangini strains and the Kusum for Kusmi strains. In Thailand the rain-tree is the principal lac host.
The cultivation of lac is fairly simple. The host trees are pruned in proper season and when the new shoots come out, two or three sticks of broodlac containing living insects are tied on to branches near them. The larvae swarm out, settle on the shoots and go on producing the resin. After the infection of the trees with brood lac, the crop needs little or no attention till the time of harvesting. The crop is cut, and after keeping a portion apart to serve as broodlac for the next crop, the rest is scraped off from the twigs and sold in the market as Sticklac. Freshly scraped sticklac contain plenty of moisture and is usually left in the shade to dry.
Sticklac is then sold by the cultivators in small quantities in village markets to the manufacturers or their agents and thus supplementing the income of some
2-3 million rural folk, mostly Adivasis.
Rangini strain products the main crop, Baisacky which comes to the market in
April-May. The corresponding Katki crop which comes in October-November is mostly used as broodlac for the next Baisacky. The Kusmi strain also yields two crops - Aghani and Jethwi
- the latter serving as broodlac for the fromer which is the major Kusmi crop.
The quality and consequently the value of sticklac depend upon a variety of factors, namely, the broodlac and the host tree, the climatic conditions and the season of harvesting - whether the crop is harvested before larval emergence or after and also how it has been dried and stored. Among the Rangini crops, Baisacky is better than Katki and is case of Kusmi,
-Aghani is superior to Jethwi. Again Baisacky lac from Ber fetches a higher price than that grown on Palas.
In India, the yield of sticklac averages 3/4 times the weight of broodlac used.