Tea Expert Fears of Low Yields Due to Drought

A senior agronomist at Tea Research Foundation for Central Africa (TRFCA) says the prolonged dry spell experienced in December last year has potential of contributing to reduction of tea yields during the 2021/2022 cropping season.

Chikondi Katungwe in an emailed response to our questionnaire on tea production and climate change said tea just like any other crop, has not been spared by effects of climate change.

“The consequences include rising temperatures, inconsistent rainfall patterns and amount and prolonged drought and due to these effects, between 8% and 26% of young tea has been dying in recent years,” said Katungwe.

She says for optimum growth and yield, tea requires between 1, 200 millimeters and 3000 millimeters of rainfall per annum and an optimum temperature range of 18℃ to 25 ℃ but like in December, Mimosa weather station which is within tea growing area in Mulanje and Thyolo recorded 78.1 millimeters while temperature was 33.1℃.

“In recent years, maximum temperatures exceeding 35℃ have been experienced on a number of days during the hot and dry months,” said Katungwe.

Meanwhile Katungwe says TRFCA recommends tea growers to plant the recently released eleven drought tolerant cultivars such as PC 401, PC 402, PC 302, PC 303, PC 168 and PC 185.

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