Tea planting procedures and production techniques

The botanical name of Tea plant is Camellia sinensis L. O. Kuntze.; it belongs to the family Camelliaceae

Varieties: Pandian, Sundaram, Golconda, Jayaram, Evergreen, Athrey, Brookeland, BSS 1, BSS 2, BSS 3, BSS 4, BSS 5, Biclonal seed stocks and Grafts.

Soil and climate: Tea requires well drained soil with high amount of organic matter and pH 4.5 to 5.5. The performance of tea is excellent at elevations ranging from 1000 - 2500 m.

Nursery: The nursery soil should be well drained and deep loam in nature with pH of 4.5 to 4.8.
The soil and sand, which are to be used in the preparation of rooting medium, should be tested for pH and nematode infestation.

Pre-treatment of rooting medium: Treating with Aluminium sulphate can reduce soil pH. For this purpose the nursery soil is formed into beds of one metre width and about 8 cm height and
of a convenient length. Then the beds are drenched with 2% solution of Aluminium sulphate applied at 10 litres per 2.5 sq.m of area. Over this another layer of soil of 8 cm height is spread and again drenched with equal quantity of water twice. Then the soil is allowed to dry and the pH is checked before use in the nursery.

Preparation of sleeves: Polythene sleeves of 150 or 200 gauge and 10 cm width and 30 - 45cm length may be used. Drainage holes may be provided. The lower 3/4 of the sleeves should be filled with 1:3 sand and soil mixture and the top 1/4 with 1:1 sand and soil mixture and staked in rows. Overhead shade is provided.

Selection of mother bush and its treatment: Healthy and vigorously growing high yielding bushes should be selected. Apply to each selected bush, 40 g of young tea mixture 60:90 NK mixture upto 5 years. In addition, 3 weeks before 0.5 % Al SO4
+ 1 % Mg SO4; 2 weeks before 2 % Zn SO4; 1 week before 1 % Urea.

Preparation of cuttings: Cuttings are taken on April - May and August - September. Semi hard-wood cuttings are prepared with one full leaf and an internode with a slanting cut at the bottom.

Planting of cuttings: The sleeves are watered thoroughly and holes are made in the soil. The cuttings are inserted in the hole and the soil around is pressed firmly to avoid airspace followed by watering. Small polythene tents may be provided which maintain high humidity and regulate
the temperature inside. Cuttings may take 10 - 12 weeks for rooting. After 90 days i.e. when all the cuttings have rooted, the polythene tent may be removed gradually over a period of 10 - 15 days.

Manuring of nursery: After the tent is removed the cuttings are sorted and staked. 30 g of Nursery soluble mixture of the following composition dissolved in 10 litres of water may be applied over an area of 4 sq.m. This should be done fortnightly

Hardening of the cuttings: Hardening of 4 - 6 months old young cuttings should be done by removing shade gradually in stages over a period of 4 - 6 weeks starting from a few hours exposure to sun every day initially and extending the time of exposure gradually.

Methods of planting tea
Single Hedge System: In this method the spacing is 1.20 x 0.75 m accommodating 10,800 plants/ha.
Double Hedge System: In this method, the spacing is 1.35 x 0.75 x 0.75 m accommodating 13,200 plants/ha.

Season and planting: May - June or September - October.
Sleeves should be opened lengthwise without injuring the roots and planted in the pit and the soil is gently pressed.

Irrigation: Subsoil irrigation may be given for young teas during summer months.

Manuring: Manuring should be done 2 months after planting. Phosphorous should be applied at 80 - 100 kg/ha as Rock phosphate once in a year by placement at 15 - 25 cm depth upto the
first pruning and thereafter once in two years. N : K ratio 2 : 3 should be adapted for the first 3 years and a ratio 1 : 1 thereafter
Application of fertilizers should be done before the onset of monsoon. Fertilizers should be broadcast around the drip circle avoiding contact with the collar.

Aftercultivation: Control perennial grasses (Forbicot weeds) by spraying Glyphosate 1.75 lit + Kaoline 2 lit + 2 kg of wetting agent in 450 lit. of water followed by Gramoxone 500 ml in 200 lit of
water to control dicot weeds.

Training young tea Centering: To induce more laterals centering should be done 3 - 5 months after planting. The main leader stem should be cut, leaving 8 - 10 matured leaves.

Tipping: Tipping at a height of 35 cm from the second tipping at 60 cm from ground level.

Pruning: To maintain convenient height and vegetative growth and to remove dead and diseased branches:
Area to be pruned every year = Total extent of the garden / Pruning cycle
Pruning interval = (Elevation in feet / 1000) + 1
Pruning should be done in April - May or August - September.
Types of pruning
Rejuvenation pruning: The whole bush should be cut near the ground level less than 30 cm with a view to rejuvenate the bushes.
Hard pruning: Formation pruning of young tea at 30 to 45 cm (12" to 18") for proper spread of bushes.
Medium pruning: To check the bush growing to an inconvenient height this type of pruning is done in order to stimulate new wood and to maintain the foliage at lower levels less than 60 cm.
Light pruning: Pruning depends on the previous history of the bush raising the height of medium pruning by an inch or less to manageable heights for plucking (less than 65 cm).
Skiffing: This is the lightest of all pruning methods. A removal of only the top 5 - 8 cm new growth is done so as to obtain a uniform level of pruning surface (more than 65 cm).

Shade regulation: Pollarding of shade trees should be done prior to heavy rains at a height of 8 - 10 m from the ground level.

Annual lopping: Cutting the erect type branches on the laterals in shade trees.

Plant protection against pests
Scales: Spray carbaryl 50 WP @ 2 g/lit. or endosulfan 35 EC 2 ml/lit or quinalphos 25 EC 2 ml/lit or chlorpyriphos 20 EC 2 ml/lit.
Sahydrassis/Phassus borer: Locate the particle mat covering at the base tea bush and remove.
Insert a thick wire in the bore hole to kill the larvae.
Pour quinalphos 25 EC by an ink filler inside the borehole and close it with moist clay.
Thrips and Aphids: Spray phosalone 35 EC or endosulfan 35 EC 2 ml/lit.
Mites: Spray dicofol 18.5 EC 2 ml/lit or sulphur 40 WP 2 g/l or sulphur 80 WP 1 g/l.

Protection against Diseases
Blister blight: Hexagonazole 200 ml + Copper oxychloride 210 g 5 days interval/ha. Spray 210 g Copper oxychloride and Nickel chloride per ha at 5 days interval from June - September; 11 days intervals in October and November.
or Copper oxychloride 210 g + 200 ml Propiconazole/ha 10 days interval.

Crop duration and harvest: Plucking commences when the tea bush is 3 years old. The plucking of extreme tip of the growing branch consists of an unopened bud together with two leaves is popularly known as “Two leaves and a bud” while fine plucking is anything less than
this. Plucking continues throughout the year in South at weekly intervals during March - May and at intervals of 10 -14 days during the other months.
2 – 3 leaves with a bud – 7 to 10 days interval – rush period.
10 – 15 days interval – lean period.

Yield: The yield of green leaves is 10 t/ha.

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