The factors that influence the choice of pruning cycles are discussed below:
Crop and Quality Requirement
With the tea of normal vigour generally higher yields are obtained with lighter cuts or with longer pruning cycles. The average percentage increases in crop with different forms of skiff and unprune over light prune (LP) is expected to be as follows:
|Type of Skiffing||Crop increase over Light prune (LP)|
|Deep Skiff (DS)||10-15%|
|Medium Skiff (MS)||15-20%|
|Light Skiff (LS)||20-25%|
|Level off Skiff (LVS) Unprune (UP)||30-35%|
This increase may be more or less dependent on the vigour of the bush, plucking, pest infestation etc. With the standard method of manufacture, the leaves from unpruned and light skiffed tea produce tea of lower quality than the leaves from pruned or deep skiffed tea.
Pruning and skiffing methods can be profitably utilized to obtain increased and evenly distributed crop. By a careful admixture of various forms of skiff and prune in any tea garden, it is possible to increase the yield and even out the crop distribution.
The periodic crop distribution pattern (percentage) from different forms of prune/skiff is shown in table below:
Crop Distribution pattern (%) from different forms of Prune and Skiffs
|Early season (March-June)||22||28||32||40||45|
|Rain (July –Sept)||63||63||61||55||52|
The monthly crop distribution can vary under different agro-climatic conditions and management practices. Seasonal crop distribution pattern for different types of prune and skiff and different pruning cycles are shown in tables below:
Crop Distribution in Different Month of the Season (%) from Different Types of Prune/Skiff
Percentage Crop Distribution in Dfferent Seasons from some Pruning Cycles
Early Season Crop
Main Season Crop
Backend Season Crop
Pest and Disease incidence
Unpruned or light skiffed bushes are more susceptible to a host of pests such as mites, caterpillars, scale insects, helopeltis, thrips as well as diseases like black rot etc. than the deep skiffed or pruned tea. Mite thrives on the foliage during winter and start multiplying the following season as soon as the weather warms up. The residual population is directly related to the amount of foliage left at the time of pruning/skiffing.
Climate and Soil
Climate and soil of a region also affect the choice of a pruning cycle. The important elements of climate are rainfall distribution and temperature. Light textured soils have low moisture holding capacity and are more prone to drought. In droughty areas or years; unpruned sections suffer more from drought than the pruned sections. Usually, drought prone areas are always the first ones to be infested by mites and caterpillars. If one desires to introduce unpruned years in their pruning cycles, then good shade must be ensured in the unprunedsections. Good weed control, particularly during October to April, will also help in conserving moisture loss by transpiration through weeds.
Unpruned and light skiffed sections require approximately 30 –40 per cent more mandays for plucking compared to pruned or deep skiffed teas. Hence, labour availability also influences the choice of pruning cycles.
Emphasis has now been shifted from extensive to intensive system of management in tea culture. Since pruning has profound influence on the productivity of a tea garden, pruning policy should receive important consideration while planning the programme.
The policy of pruning in a tea estate should ensure the following:
(a) The bush health must be maintained so that maximum number of healthy shoots appears from the pruning sticks and majority of them reach the tipping height in time.
(b) Harvesting of maximum possible crop by maintaining acceptable quality throughout the season should be ensured.
(c) Sections should be protected from pests and diseases, and
(d) The height of the bush frame should be kept within reasonable limit for efficient plucking.