GUWAHATI, June 16 – The prevailing hot weather conditions have resulted in loss to the State’s tea industry. The premium second flush Assam tea production has witnessed loss both in its quality and quantity. Even if rain comes in the coming week, the tea plantations will take time to recover from the heat stroke, said noted tea scientist P Bordoloi of the famous consulting firm P Bordoloi and Associates.
According to Bordoloi, scorching of tea leaves has been reported from many tea estates. Exposure to ambient temperature of 35°Celsius (°C) to 38 °C during six to seven hours of the whole day has resulted in leaf temperature of 37°C to 40°C in well-shaded areas of tea estates and 47°C to 50°C in un-shaded areas of the estates.
Unfortunately, he said, the shade tree status is poor and about 30 per cent area of the tea plantations are devoid of shade. Already, the industry is behind in crop due to drought during the beginning of the season and a long lull period in May. The May production of tea is almost 40 per cent less compared to normal production of the month and virtually the premium second flush Assam tea production has suffered loss both in quality and quantity, he maintained.
Explaining the phenomenon and also as to how excess temperature harms tea plantations, he said, since the beginning of the current month, North East India is tottering under a hot weather condition, which is unprecedented in its plantation history, with the mercury rising up to 38°C. This condition causes a rise in the ambient temperature up to 35°C by around 11 am. And it steadily rises up to about 38°C by 2 pm. But in the tea plantation, temperature shoots up further, he said.
Food manufacturing capability of tea declines rapidly above 35°C leaf temperature and there is no food production from 39°C to 42°C leaf temperature. The respiration of the plant somehow continues up to 48°C and above it there is large scale damage of tea leaves, maintains the tea scientist.