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TEA CULTIVATION MODULE - Nigel Melican

We shall look at tea cultivation from the farmer’s view - providing the right conditions and inputs for tea to grow well, and from the plant’s view - how it responds to the various cultivation techniques used around the world.  The day will cover traditional husbandry and more modern ways to enhance yield and quality.

About Nigel Melican: For 27 years Nigel worked with Unilever Research on all aspects of tea improvement, from marginal condition planting to factory design, optimisation and value addition. In 1990 he founded Teacraft Ltd, which provides technical consultancy and training in tea husbandry, production, management, value addition and marketing, and also invented the award winning Teacraft ECM System “tea factory in a box”, now used by Tea Research Institutes around the world. Nigel has been known to boast that he has personally manufactured good black tea on six of the world’s seven continents. He also founded Nothing But Tea Ltd in 2002.

Introduction
Agenda
What we shall cover today
About Teacraft

Some Tea Background

  • ISO definition of tea
  • Where tea is from
  • Where it grows
  • Who grows it
  • Some growing statistics

Tea Cultivation – the external influences

Natural inputs

  • Light – Intensity, Duration, Quality
  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • Pests & diseases
  • Carbon dioxide level
  • Soil – type, pH, drainage, depth, fertility, leaching
  • Rainfall
  • Wind
  • Mycorrhiza

Human inputs

  • Tea breeding, selection, cultivars, clones and varieties
  • Propagation – seed, cuttings, nursery technique
  • Planting – planning, soil preparation, density, spacing, protection
  • Fertilizer – nutrient balance, organic versus conventional growing
  • Irrigation
  • Plant husbandry – mulching, weeding, pest & disease control
  • Pruning -formative pruning, maintenance pruning,
  • Harvesting – methods, frequency, timing

Growing tea at home
Do’s and Don’ts

Growing tea under marginal conditions

AFTERNOON SESSION:
Tea Cultivation – the plant’s responses

Cytology – what’s happening at the cellular level
Development responses

  • Germination
  • Vigour
  • Dormancy
  • Juvenility
  • Flowering

Morphological responses

  • to imposed pruning
  • to imposed harvesting

Physiological responses

  • Uptake & transport of water
  • Uptake & transport of nutrients
  • Partition of synthate
  • Storage of excess metabolites – starch, protein & fats
  • Transpiration for temperature control
  • Defence strategies against pests & diseases

Metabolic responses

  • Photosynthesis – producing glucose fuel
  • Respiration – producing energy for growth
  • Biosynthesis – producing the compounds that end up in the cup
  • Volatiles biosynthesis – tea aroma
  • Non-volatiles biosynthesis – catechins, theanine, taste and colour

Commercial tea growing
Yield – how it is measured, importance, typical values
Quality – importance of, how defined, how ensured
Types – conventional, sustainable, organic, and biodynamic systems explained
Future – drivers for change in tea cultivation; how the industry is responding