The interval of time between two successive prunes is called a pruning cycle. A pruning cycle consists of a prune followed by lighter forms of cut (skiffing) or unprune for two to four years until the bushes are pruned again.
Substitution of annual pruning by longer pruning cycles through the introduction of skiff and/or unprune, in general, increases productivity of bush. But if the cycle of pruning is lengthened beyond four years, some of the branches will become very thick leading to a reduction in the number of pruning sticks. Generally, in plains 2 to 4 years pruning cycles are followed. In hills, however, the cycle can be extended to 6 years.
In longer pruning cycles, pruning should logically be done when the yield starts declining. However, this is not always possible due to a number of practical difficulties. Therefore, pruning of each section of tea in an estate has to be decided on merit. A pruning cycle of fixed duration for all sections is not conducive to crop maximization. Furthermore, agronomic management and economic consideration require from time to time, variations in the length of pruning cycles of different sections of tea within an estate.