Tea Nursery Management

Tea Nursery Management

Introduction to Tea Nursery

Tea is the most popular drink in the world after water and there are many health benefits of drinking tea. Today tea cultivation is prevalent in the many countries in the world. For fertile tea cultivation largely affects the quality plants obtained from a nursery. Therefore it is important to know about tea nursery management which is very essential step of tea cultivation.

Nursery is the first step of the planting program of agriculture production. Tea nursery  management  is  one  of the very  important  operation in  tea  cultivation because  this  is  the  initial  stage  of  establishing  quality  and  vigorous  tea  plant.  The primary objective of nursery management is to raise healthy and uniform plants from suitable cultivars with minimum casualties over an appropriate period of time with a minimum cost. A good nursery plant should be in height about 30cm comprising 15 leaves with 2-3 side branches, and a well-developed root system.

Tea Nursery Bed
Tea Nursery
Tea Nursery plant

Essential Steps of Tea Nursery Management

  • Identification of Mother Bushes/ Selection of Cultivars
  • Preparation of Mother Bushes
  • Selection of Soil
  • Nursery Site Selection
  • Fumigation and Bagging
  • Collection of Shoots
  • Method of Taking Cuttings
  • Laying of Cuttings
  • Shade Management
  • Fertilizing
  • Pest and Disease Control
  • Encourage Lateral Spread of Plants
  • Observation of Growth

Identification of Mother Bushes/ Selection of Cultivars

The  selection of  cultivars  both  for  replanting  and  infilling  depend  on  the  desired characters  such  as  high  yielding  ability,  quality  of  the  made  tea,  resistance  to  pests and diseases and tolerance to overcome some climatic limitations such as drought and also plant  should assists  to  produce  healthy,  vigorous  and  uniform  plants  in  the nursery.

Preparation of Mother Bushes

The  multiplication  plots  should  be  situated  in  good  soil  where  gently  slope  and  land near  to  the  nursery. To stimulate  the  growth  of  lateral  branches,  it  was  advised  to remove the auxiliary buds of newly grown shoots after pruning about 2 weeks prior to obtain shoots from mother bushes to remove apical dominancy and then followed by a foliar application of Zinc Sulphate and 2 –3% Urea mixture to induce growth lateral buds.

Selection of Soil

Loamy  soil  with  a  pH of  4.5 -5.5,  sieved  from  No. 3 and No. 4  meshes should  be taken. Grass soil was taken which has the ability to hold up water with sands for easy draining by removing unwanted particles. Sources of soil should be grass soil, Patna soil, jungle soil or sub soil.

Nursery Site Selection

The  site  should  be  centrally  located,  proximate  to  water  sources,  soil  and planting materials  with  a  good  drainage. Absence of overhanging branches  of  trees  and protected  from  wind  which  should  be  the  most  probably concerned  in  regarding  the selecting  of  nursery  site. It should not have shade trees or overhanging branches of trees.

Fumigation and Bagging

Soil  fumigation  should  be  done  to  eradicate  nematode  infestation  at  the preliminary stage in the nursery by adding 800 ml of Metham Sodium or 500 g of Bazamid per 1 cube of soil after sieving from No. 4 mesh. Then it is covered for three weeks using 500 gauge black polythene. Soil solarization is also practiced as a soil treatment. The covered soil should be mixed well after the 9th, 12th, 15thand 21stdays. Bags  were  prepared  from  150  gauge transparent polythene  with a height of 9” and width of 5” and few holes were punched at the bottom of the sleeves. Bags were filled with moisten  fumigated  soil  by  gently  pressurizing  the  soil  towards  the  polythene sleeve without keeping air pockets in it. Then bags should be kept for 2 -3 weeks to settle down.

Collection of Shoots

Generally 3-5 suitable cuttings per shoot and 15-25 shoots could be obtained from a mother bush.  Vigorously grown erect shoots were collected early in the morning. Lateral branches were not being taken.

Method of Taking Cuttings

“Single nodal cutting” is the ideal form of the vegetative part for planting in nursery. These cuttings were taken from semi hard wood, middle portion of the shoot leaving the apical tender portion and the  basal  mature  portion.  Recommended length of a cutting is 2.5-3.8 cm. Cuttings with flower buds,  over  grown  shoots  and  damaged mother leaf containing cuttings were discarded.  The cuttings were dropped into a Cu fungicide solution container immediately after the cuttings were obtained.  This was done for preventing the Blister blight attack initial stage in the nursery and dried out. The ideal shoot that we had taken from healthy shoot was as follows.

Single Node Tea Cutting
Single Node Cutting

Laying of Cuttings

The cuttings were vertically inserted down to the wetted soil and gently pressed by the fingers.  Only  one  cutting  was  planted  in  one  bag  but  bags  at  either  sides of  the  bed can be provided with two cuttings in order to use in resupplying casualties. The leaves were  oriented  in  a  way  to  avoid  overlapping  with adjacent  leaves. Cuttings with overgrown shoots, axillary flowery buds and damaged mother leaf were rejected.

Shade Management

Cuttings  should  not  be  exposed  to  direct  sunlight  and  therefore  optimum  shade  was supplied. There are different types of shades such as low shade with bracken fern was used as shade-providing method and using a net that reduces the sunlight by about sixty percent.

Tea Nursery Shade
Tea Nursery Shade


Fertilizer  application  should  be  commenced  only  when  cuttings  have  rooted  Initially,about35g of T65. (10.9% N, 10.8 P2O5, 11.1% K2O, 3.7% MgO)  in  five litter of water  for  1  square meter  (120  plants)  at  fortnight  intervals should  be applied  and  the dosage should  be gradually  increased  to  70g  after  two  months and  should  continue. After  fertilizing, the  plants  should  be  washed  with  fresh  water  to  prevent  scorch. To enhance  early  bud  break  and  for  active  growth  of  plants  ZnSO4 can  be  applied as foliar  application.  14g of ZnSO4 in for five litters of water can be sprayed  by  using  Knapsack sprayer for 4500 plants about a week after the first application of T 65. (10.9% N, 10.8% P2O5, 11.1% K2O, 3.7% MgO).

Pest and Disease Control

At  the  stage  of  nursery,  few  pests  and  diseases  can  be  observed.  Tea  Tortrix,  Shot-hole  Borer,  and  Mites  are  possible  pests  that  could  be  attack  nursery  plants.  Blister Blight was observed as a prominent disease of nursery plants. At the nursery stage all these pests and deceases were mostly controlled by chemical methods.

Encourage Lateral Spread of Plants

Removal of  the  terminal  bud  of  the  plant  at  4 -5  leaf  stage is  called dis-budding. This was repeated in auxiliary shoots, when they have grown out and this called dis-budding. The bud and 2 to 3 leaves were removed at 7 to 8 leaf stage of plant and this process called thumb nailing.

Observation of Growth

When  the  plants  are  grown  up  to  4-5  months,  re-staking  and  hardening  will  be conducted. Re-staking  of  plants  is  very  important  practice  to  be  done  in  nurseries. This can be conducted in three stages according to the growth. Objective of re-staking is  to provide correct  inputs,  improving  the  aeration  and  drainage  in  the  bag and removing the moss growth. During Hardening off, plants are gradually exposed to sun light starting from 5-6 months  of  age.  The  period  of  exposure  then  expanded gradually and finally the shade will be removed completely


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