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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Field establishment of young tea

Tea is well grown in Reddish Brown soils in 4.5-5.5 pH range. Depth of the soil layer 1m is optimum where less than 60 cm is considered unsuitable for tea cultivation. Tea is cultivated alone the contour lines where the slope of the land is not exceeding 70% (45 degrees = 100%). The spacing between two rows is 1.2 m & within row is 0.6 m.

Planting holes are digged to a depth of 18" and diameter is 12". Fill the planting holes 3/4 way with top soil, removed with gravel & leave about 1 week to settle before planting the young plant. This prevents the collor region of the stem covered with soil, when it settles, and possible fungal infections.

Remove the polythene bag from the young plant and plant it in the partially filled planting hole. Fill the rest of the gap with soil. Supply some backing with 2 sticks to prevent movement with wind, and a mulch to prevent siol erotion. (keep mulch 4"-6" away from stem to avoid fungal infections and scratches to the bark)

(this article is made very brief, if someone is interested pls leave a comment/question in the archive to get further help)

Planting & Management of Seedling tea Nursery

Seedling plantign is now not widely done since Vegetatively Propergated (VP) plants give higher yields and uniform growth. (This article is written on a request by a reader)

Harvesting of seeds

Mature tea fruits are dark greed to light brown in color depending on cultivar. When the ourter coating of the fruit is removed, seed(s) must be dark brown seed coat. Light brown and yellowish ones are not mature enough to propergate. Picking fruits before they are fallen is a must as viability of seeds become low when they fall on the ground. If you collect seeds after falling them on ground, it should done daily to avoid collecting old fallen seeds, also ground must be free of weeds.

Tea seeds don't have any dormant period, once picking from the tree they can be put in a nursery. Never take seeds picked more than 7 days before, as viability decreases rapidly.

Nursery management

Presoaking seeds 2-3 days in water, could be done prior to put in the nursery to decrease the time taken for crackin the seed coat. This is not necessary practice. However, put seeds in water for float-sinker assessment. Seeds that are sinking can be taken for germination.

Coarse river sand removed only with larger particles is suitable as a nursery media. Depth of the nursery is 4"-6" with any convenient width and length. 1" sand layer is removed from the nursery and seeds are sown after which they are covered with the sand layer removed before. Seeds must be sown at 0.5"-1" depth. Placing piece of coir matting will protect seeds from bird's damages. Water twise a day.

Transfer plants from nursery to bags.

Germination commences about 2 weeks after sowing and reaches maximum at the 3rd-4th week. Once the tip of the root emergs from the seed coat, they should transfer to nursery bags filled with soil medium. Care should be taken not to damage the root end emerging (tap root).

Fertilizer application

After 2 weeks of planting fertilizer application can be done. Pls refet to my blog archive on Fertilizer for Tea Nursery for the details. (Fertilizer for seedling & VP has no much difference in nursery management) Shading is not necessary as this is a natural process.

Planting in the field

After 8-10 months in nursery bags, depending on growth, plants are ready to plant in field. Care should be taken not to allow the tap root to reach or penetrage in to nursery soil coming out from the bag. This will sure damage the tap root when transplanting.

Please refer to my archive on Field establishment of young tea for further details.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fertilizer for Seedling Tea Nursery

Fertilizer applicatoin for tea nursery is an important matter for a vigorous and healthy young tea plant for planting. The nursery mixture of fertilizer is suitable to having N%, P% & K% 10%, 11% & 4% respectively, since it has been found that a tea plant in that stage requires nutrients in such composition.

Approximately 25-35 g of the mixture desolved in 5L of water is adequate for approximately 100 nursery plants as a folier application. The rate could be made double with the age and growth of young plants. ZnSo4 can also be applied to foliage for inducing bud break, at the rate of 5g in 5L of water for 5000 plants.

Soil pH and nutrient testing in soil

Site specific fertilizer application is the newest method of manuaring. This method need to have checked the soil pH and nutrient levels in a lab. Chemical testing for nutrient is essencial if site specific fertilizer applications are to be done.

It is necessary to maintain soil pH in 4.5 to 5.5 range to make soil nutrients available or soluble for tea plant.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Manage weeds by Agronomic Practices

In a tea land, weeds become a problem only if the land is not fully covered by tea bushes. Therefore, the best way to control weeds in a mature tea field is keeping the land free of vacancies.

If this is a new clearing, thatching is a good practice, not olny to control erosion and/or as a organic matter source, to control weeds. Controlling weeds in a young tea land also helps tea plants withstand drought conditions.

Manual weeding is recommended in tea plantations, where, scraping is highly demortivated since this increases the soil erosion.

Not all the naturally grown plants are considered as problamatic weeds. Soft weeds such as Centella spp., etc. can be remained in the tea field since they do not compete with the tea bushes for water, nutrient, etc.

Mechanical means of Tea Harvesting

Plucking is the most labour intensive operation in a tea plantation when it is done manually. Bud with with immature one or two leaves is the best time of plucking or picking of tea leaves. Mechanical ways of harvesting now popularizing in asian countries with the scarcity of labour for field operations. Countries near to the equator, enjoy sunshine and rainfall in higher intensities, all over the year. With this climatic conditions, mechanical ways of harvesting of tea shoots, makes bushes debilitated and reduction in yield by around 20-30%. Therefore, mechanical harvesting is recommended only in rush crop seasons.

Small hand-held tea shoot picker (battery powered, one man operation, light weight)

Gasoline powered, large-scale shoot picker

Shear harvesting of tea shoots

Tractor type riding harvester

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Careful with applying chemical

When you apply chemical to the tea fields, carefull to follow the recommendations issued by the producer and/or relevant authoriety. Residues will be there if you don't allow the Post Harvest Interval (PHI) before next plucking. Never spray herbicides to tea canopy.

Maximum Residue Levels (MRL) will be exceeded when mal-practiced, ultimately your tea will be rejected in the world market.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

GAP increases tea yield

Good Agronomic Practices (AGP) always increases tea yield. Even maintaining a even plucking table increases tea yield in approx. 10-15%. From planting to final harvesting there are numerous recomended agronomic practices to be applied for a sustainable tea cultivation. Although now-a-days, tea growers are forcussing only on instant income, tea cultivation is a long running system, which without GAP will be a failure in several years.

Agronomic Practices for High Yielding Tea Plantation

This blog is meant for discussing proper agronomic practices applied in tea cultivation, where you can discuss and have answers for tea related agronomic and other problems.