Plant Breeding

The tea breeding and selection programme aims to develop tea cultivars that are drought tolerant, high yielding and make high quality tea (general liquoring characteristics and health benefit 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 to develop resistant cultivars.

As part of the cultivar selection process, research is also conducted to establish processing conditions that can enhance made tea quality characteristics of the released cultivars. Currently research activities on the effects of time of withering and fermentation on black tea quality are being conducted. Work is also underway on screening for drought tolerance under controlled conditions of a rain shelter.

TRFCA breeding programme has developed and released 26 field cultivars and 10 rootstock cultivars. The commercially popular tea cultivars 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 liquour colour characteristics. More information on the individual cultivars is provided in the clonal catalogue.[NI1] 

Agronomy

The agronomy section has established various technologies for tea field management. These include recommendations on fertilizer rates and types, plucking standard and round lengths , pruning time and cycles.  In order to address problems of labour shortage, mechanical harvesting trials have also been conducted and 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 Research Projects/Activities

Plant Breeding

·         Cross pollinations and preliminary selection

·         Preliminary observation plots

·         Cultivar evaluation trials

·         Drought tolerance studies

·         Management of insect pests

·         Characterization of TRFCA cultivars for quality

·         Conservation of tea germplasm

 

Agronomy

·         TwinN as a source of nitrogen in tea

·         Evaluation of polymer coated urea and phosphate as alternative sources of nitrogen and phosphate in tea

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


 [NI1]Put link to clonal Catalogue


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