When the shoots (primaries) grow in a tea bush after pruning or skiffing, they are tipped or decapitated at a predetermined height parallel to the ground surface. This operation is called “Tipping”. Essentially the initial few rounds of plucking are called tipping.
By tipping a flat plucking surface is established for convenient plucking. It also helps to stimulate the axillary buds below the level to grow and form the plucking table.
Growth of Primary Shoots After Pruning
Tipping is done at different heights for different types of prune or skiffs. The best tipping height from the point of view of yield is the natural banjhi horizon of the shoot system on a pruned bush. What is a banjhi horizon? It refers to the average height at which most of the primaries arising from a pruned bush enter dormancy (banjhi) for the first time.(you refer to the growing habit of tea plant). This height in a normal bush is 20 cm which corresponds to 5 leaves on an average. However, the average height of 5 leaves may vary between 15 cm and 30 cm depending on the type of tea, its vigour and the thickness of the wood on which pruning is done.
In N.E. India, the Tipping Heights for different types of Prune/Skiff are as follows:
Height of tipping
|Type of Prune/Skiff||Tipping Height over the last Pruning/Skiffing Mark||Number of Leaves Retained in new lateral/Primaries|
|Light prune (LP)||20-25 cm||5|
|Medium prune (MP)||30 cm||5-6|
|Medium skiff (MS)||4-5 cm||1|
|Light skiff (LS)/Level- off- skiff (LOS)/ Unprune||Same level||Nil (pluck to janam)|
A Light Pruned Tea Bush Showing the Maintenance Leaves and Tipping Height
Tipping of the shoots is done whenever the shoots reach the tipping level and carried out till the plucking table is full. In practice, tipping is started when about 30 percent of the bushes are ready for tipping and carried out selectively at green semi hard wood. For the Assam and Assam hybrid plants, tipping-in-material
(i.e. the shoot that is removed at tipping)should be of an average four leaves and a bud irrespective of height of pruning. Thereafter, plucking is done in regular round. In light pruned and deep skiffed bushes measuring sticks should be used to tip the shoots in correct height.