Tea World

Lesson 32

Method of Frame Formation

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The tea plant which is, by nature, a small tree or shrub is pruned to form a low spreading bush by adopting different methods during the initial period. During this formative period of about 4-5 years after planting, you will have to develop the bush frame.

The objectives of frame formation at the young stage of the tea plants are:

  • To induce proper bush architecture for long sustained yield.
  • To suppress the central dominanceand apical growth and thereby to distribute the vigour for an even and radial spread of the plant.
  • To ensure uniformity in distribution and thickness of the branches of the bush frame.

You can achieve the above mentioned objectives of frame formation in three stages, viz,

  • Debudding /Decentering/Lung pruning
  • First frame formation prune after 20-26 months of planting
  • Final frame forming prune.

The permanent frame is formed at a height which will ensure optimum coverage of the ground. Normally, the height of the permanent frame is 35-45 cm from the ground level, in hilly areas it should be 35-40 cm.

For bringing up the young tea into bearing, you can adopt the following methods.


(A) If you plant tea in October –December, adopt the following method.

Plant age Month Operation
0 year October to December Plant tea and allow to grow.
+1 year Late February to Mid April Decentre the plants  at 20 cm height  from the ground level and tip at 65 cm above the ground.
June-July If the central branches are strong, then pruned down or head back these branches. Remove thecrossing branches, if any.
End October Raise height of the plant  (step up) by a leaf.
+2 year Whole year Pluck throughout the year. Pluck upto janam.   
+3 year End January to Early February  Prune the plants at 35 -40 cm above the ground level.This is the First Frame formation prune. Tip at 65 -70 cm above the ground.
End October Step up by one leaf, if required.
+ 4 year Whole year Pluck throughout the year.
+5 year End January to early February Prune at 40 -45 cm above the ground. This is the Final frame formation prune. Head back the thick central branches, if any. Tip the bushes   at 70 cm above the ground and continue plucking.

(B) If you plant tea in April -June, adopt the following method.

Plant age



 0 year April –June Plant tea and allow to grow.
July -August When the plants establish well,go for thumb breaking/lung pruning or decentering at 20 cm from the ground level. Tip the plants at 60-65 cm above the ground. However, if the pants are weak or planting was done late, deffer it to early February to mid April of the next year.
+1 year Whole year Continue plucking. No pruning and keep it unprune.
+2 year End January to Early February Prune at 35 -40 cm above the ground .This is the First Frame Formation Prune. Tip at 65-70 cm above the ground.
End October If required, step up the bush by one leaf.
+3 year Whole year Continue plucking,keep the bushes  unprune.
+4 year End January – early February Prune at 40-45 cm above the ground. This is the Final frame forming prune.Tip at 65-70 cm. Head back the thick branches at the central portion.

After giving the final frame forming prune, treat the bushes as mature tea. Thereafter, bring the bushes under regular pruning.
Guideline for carrying out different operations for frame formation.


Key points

1. Debudding i) Do it, preferably in the nursery about a week before transferring the plants to the main field for planting.
ii) Nip off the top two leaves and a bud shoot from the nursery plants two weeks before debudding.
iii) Remove all the axillary buds with the help of a forceps or a sharp blade or a sharpened piece of bamboo at 20 cm above the collar of the plant.
iv) Repeat the process, if there is any re-growth.
v) After development of laterals from the lower part, decenter the plants.
2. Starch Test  i) Prepare  the Iodine solution for starch test as follows:
(a)Weigh 1 g Iodine and 1 g Potassium iodide and put it in a beaker.
(b) Add 4-5 ml distilled water and shake the beaker gently until the iodine dissolves completely.
© Make the volume upto 100 ml with distilled water. Keep the solution away from the light in a dark coloured bottle. Or wrap the bottle with a carbon paper.
ii) Select 15-20 plants at random as samples for thetest
iii) Collect roots of pencil thickness (5 mm dia) by digging holes upto 15 cm deep about 10 cm away from the collar of the sample plants. In case of older plants, root samples need not to be drawn so close to the collar.
iv) Give a sharp cut with a blade at one end of the sample root.
v) Apply 1-2 drops of Iodine solution to the smooth cut surface of the root by holding it upright.
vi) Keep the root in that position for about 5 minutes, shake of the iodine solution and note the change of colour of the cut surface.
vii) Deep blue colour spread over the entire cross section of the root indicates high concentration of starch. In case there is no colour development or it is pale, plants require a period for starch build up.
viii) Carry out starch test prior to decentering, first and final frame forming prune.
3.Decentering i) Cut the main stem at 18-20 cm height from the ground level leaving 2-3 lateral branches below.
ii) Cut the laterals at 35 cm from the ground level
iii) Use 7.5 cm long, sharp knife.
iv) Put your leg firmly at the base of the plant while centering.
v) Decenter the plants when they become banjhi after  making a flush of growth following transplanting.
vi) Do not decenter the single stemmers. Instead go for  lung pruning or thumb breaking.
4.Lung Pruning or Thumb Breaking i) Half break the single stemmers at 20 cm height from the ground using a small knife by holding the plants between thumb and index finger.
ii) Bend the stem southward or westward depending upon the row direction and in such a way that tissues on one side are left intact.
iii) Remove the broken portion after the branch below it produces a flush of growth and goes banjhi.
iv) After 6-8 weeks of this operation, any primary growing faster and getting thicker (than normal) should be headed back to 25-30 cm above the ground level.
5.First Frame Forming Prune i) Impart it to 20-26 months old plants.
ii) Check the starch reserve of the roots before pruning.
iii) Prune the plants at 35-40 cm height from the ground.
iv) Head back the strong central or thicker branches and criss -cross branches on merit.
v) Do not open the centre of the bush ,but be selective.
vi) Carry out the operation during end January to early February ion the plains of N.E.India.
6.Final Frame Forming Prune i) Impart it 2-3 years after the first frame forming prune.
ii) Prune the plants at 40-45 cm height from the ground.

You should take precaution on the following:

  • Don’t decenter when the plants are actively growing.
  • Don’t pull out the young plants while decentering.
  • While lung pruning or thumb breaking the broken part of the stem should remain bending towards the ground.
  • At the final frame forming prune, the thickness of the branches at the pruning height should be 5mm in dia.
  • The cuts should be sharp and clean.
  • Much cleaning not required if due care is taken at first prune. Otherwise complete clearing is needed.

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