The system of tea pruning followed by most of the countries in the world is almost similar to the system followed in South India and Sri Lanka. In South India after the final frame forming prune, the shoots are tipped for a few rounds and then plucked continuously for rest of the pruning cycle. The length of pruning cycle may vary from 3 to 6 years depending on the elevation of the place. It is a general rule to add a year to the pruning cycle for every thousand feet (300m) rise of elevation. At the end of the pruning cycle, bushes are pruned approximately 5 cm above the previous pruning level then tipped and plucked until the bushes are pruned again. At the end of four or five cycles when the bush frames reach a height of 60 cm, bushes are pruned down to a height of 35-40 cm. Similar system is also followed in Sri Lanka, however with a tendency for hard cut and more thorough cleaning out.
In East African countries also once in 3 to 4 year cycle, depending upon the rate of table rise. In Indonesia, pruning of the mature tea is carried out on three or four years cycle, depending on how the plucking table is managed from one pruning period to the next. Leaving lungs/breathers is recommended to compensate the hard pruning. It is recommended not to prune at the end of prolonged severe drought especially down or reduction pruning.
In Russian subtropics, on mature tea plantations annual cut-across pruning is carried out in March leaving 2-3 leaves of the growth of previous May. Skiffing is done on relatively low bushes (50cm), when only shoot tops are cut leaving more than 70% of the previous year growth. In some cases, old wood is pruned removing the previous year’s growth together with the entire canopy. All the above mentioned three types of pruning in alternate years are included in two or three years pruning cycle system. When the bush height becomes more than 1.5 m, severe and semi-heavy regenerative pruning is carried out. Semi-heavy pruning is done at a height of 40-50 cm from the ground level. Heavy regenerative pruning is done in the same way at a height of 10-15 cm by a special tea pruning unit.
In the cultivation of Japanese tea garden, the surface of the rows of tea is pruned in such a way that the shoots grow in a regular manner. Very clear seasonal flushing of shoots is a characteristic in Japanese tea growing.Tea plants 10 years later after planting are subjected to trimming and pruning in order to (i) refresh the vigor of an old tea plant and (ii) keep the height of the plucking surface within the bounds of easy and efficient plucking. Because of difference of effects between trimming and pruning, these treatments are done in different periods, the former every 2 to 3 years and the latter every 5- years. Skiffing is done after every harvesting and in autumn to remove the late-emerging shoot and to keep the surface uniform for mechanical plucking. Generally, from April to October, tea shoots grow and harvest 2-4 times, first crop in late April to mid May, second crop in late June, third crop in late July to early August and fourth crop in mid September in Shizuoka Prefecture.
In many countries, pruning is carried out by machine, using various types of tractor drawn or self propelled cutting machines.