Plant Breeding

The tea breeding and selection program aims to develop tea cultivators that are drought tolerant, high yielding and make high quality tea (general liquoring characteristics and health benefits properties). Along with the selection of vegetatively propagated cultivars, trials on evaluation of seed stocks are being conducted to identify elite biclonal seed stocks that can be released as commercial varieties. In order to address some of the problems associated with climate change, work on management of major pests is being done in order to develop resistant cultivars. As part of the cultivator selection process, research is also conducted to establish processing conditions that can enhance made tea quality characteristics of the released cultivators. Currently research activities on the effects of time of withering and fermentation on black tea quality are being conducted. TRFCA breeding programme has developed and released 26 field cultivators and 10 rootstock cultivators. The commercially popular tea cultivators developed by the Foundation include:SFS 150, SFS 204, PC 105, PC 108, PC 117, PC 122, PC 168, PC 185, PC 198, PC 213, PC 301, PC 302, PC 303 and PC 304. Some of the released cultivars have very high potential for making teas with flavour and distinct liquourcolour characteristics.

Current Projects

• Drought tolerance studies

• Cultivar evaluation trial 1

• Cultivar evaluation trial 3

• Preliminary observation plots

• Biclonal seedling variety evaluation trial

• Management of insect pests

• Characterization of TRFCA cultivars for quality

• Tea field Genebank

• Preliminary field selection

Agronomy

The agronomy section has established technologies for tea field management. These include recommendations on fertilizer rates and types, plucking standards and rounds that optimize yield,and tea pruning time and practices from planting to maturity. In order to address problems of labour shortage, mechanical harvesting trials have also been conducted.Appropriate recommendations on plucking round and table height adjustments have been developed. Considering that the cost of fertilizer is always increasing, the search for cost-effective alternatives to inorganic sources of fertilizers for tea nutrition is in the process.

Current Projects

• TwinN as a source of nitrogen in tea

• Evaluated of polymer coated urea and phosphate as alternative sources of nitrogen and phosphate in tea

• Efficacy of liquid lime (Cal-lime flo and Mag-lime –flo) on availability of Calcium and magnesium

• Enhancement of growth of nursery tea plants using NHCa Delta and Maxiboost


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