Light Prune (LP) /Cut Across Prune (CA)
Light or top pruning is a maintenance pruning. It is a cut given 4-5 cm above the last prune level (i.e. leaving 4-5 cm new wood) in order to remove the congested top hamper and to renew the shoot system for more vigorous growth. Top hamper refers to the portion of the tea bush above the pruning level which supports the growth of shoots. The portion of the new wood left in the bush after the light prune is called stick. New shoots develop from the buds present on the sticks. While giving a light prune, it is to be noted that the pruning sticks are of optimum in thickness (pencil thick). If the thickness is not sufficient, pruning may have to be deferred.
In the plains, the pruning cut is given across a flat level (parallel to the ground) but in sloping terrain, pruning parallel to the slope (i.e. slope pruning) is more convenient and popular.
A light pruned tea bush
The main purpose of medium pruning is to reduce the height of the bushes. When the height of the bush frame rises to an unmanageable height (beyond 80 cm) due to repeated light prune, it is cut back to a low height above the original frame forming prune. If the frame forming prune was given at 45cm, then medium prune can be given at any point above this height. Pruning is done followed by the removal of knots, diseased wood etc. even from below the general pruning height.
Removal of knots, unproductive wood, congestion of the bush frame and its sanitation, reduction of the proportion of unproductive wood are other objectives of medium pruning.
Bushes must be rested (i.e.plucking is stopped) for six to eight weeks before carrying out medium pruning to have an adequate reserve of carbohydrates in the roots.
Bud breaking after pruning
Normally, reduction of bush height by medium pruning becomes necessary after every 15 to 20 years depending upon the original frame height and the pruning cycle followed.
Heavy Pruning and Rejuvenation Pruning
Heavy pruning as practiced today in NE India is done with the sole objectives of improving the yielding capacity of some old but reasonably good sections of tea to minimize the loss of crop during uprooting and replanting of the uneconomic sections. Heavy pruning is, therefore, a part of the package of practices aimed at renovating the sections of run-down tea, and can be termed as rejuvenation pruning.
This is the severest type of pruning in which the entire above-ground portion is cut leaving only the maximum of 10 cm when the bush frame becomes unproductive and the root system is still healthy. It is also called Down Pruning.