Tea-Inter cultivation

Apply the recommended fertilizers along the drip circle of plants. In the semi-circular furrow taken above the plant on the slope, using a Kokra-eyebrow method, apply the fertilizers when there is adequate soil moisture and when the fields are free from weeds. Punch holes of 15-22 cm depth in the soil on either side of the plants and place the rock phosphate.

The apical dominance is arrested by cutting off the leader stem. This operation, called centering (or decentering). It promotes the growth of axillary buds and lateral branches.

Centering is done 4-6 months after planting during humid weather when there is adequate moisture in the soil. The ladder stem is cut with secateurs as low as possible leaving 8-10 mature leaves below the cut.

For further lateral branch formation, good spread and establishment of plucking surface the growing branches are trained by two stage tipping.

First tipping is carried out at 35 cm to induce tertiaries followed by second tipping at 50 cm to increase the density of plucking points. Tipped materials should have 3-4 leaves and a bud. Tipping is usually done at green, semi hardened branches.

Formative pruning (branch formation pruning) is carried out at the end of five years after planting. The recommended pruning height for formative pruning is around 45 cm above ground level. At the time of formative pruning branches which are less than pencil size thick are removed.

Rejuvenation pruning is done when primary branches are thin and whippy, hard pruning, for proper spread of bushes and light pruning, when bush frames are healthy. For better frame development skiffing is done.

Apply Copper Oxychloride 50 WP paste to cut ends after rejuvenation and hard pruning.

Burry pruned twigs and leaves in trenches to conserve moisture and to add organic matter

Silver Oak is the recommended shade tree for tea in south India. Silver Oak plants are planted at 6.1 X 6.1 m spacing at the time of planting and thinned out at 12.2 X 6.1 m at the end of fifth year and later on at 12.2 X 12.2 m at the end of ninth or tenth year. Always thin out shade prior to pruning.

Cutting of main stem to facilitate lateral branch growth is pollarding. The shade trees are pollarded at a height of 7.6 m in estates located in high elevation and at 9.1 m in lower altitude regions.  Leave one branch in each direction and three to four tiers of branches below pollarding height.

The shade trees are also annually lopped before the onset of the monsoon season. Remove old trees after 40 years by ringing the bark of trees, after establishing new shade trees.

Sprinkler and drip irrigation for young and mature tea can be adopted during summer. Sub soil irrigation of young tea @ 1 litre per plant per week is also carried out.

Young tea fields and the fields immediately after pruning is to be hand plucked irrespective of the season. Fields that had crossed more than 15 months from pruning can be harvested with the help of hand held shears.

Plucking tea leaves is done at 12 to 15 days interval during low cropping months. Shear harvesting is practiced during rush hours.