Lack of rain likely to hit first flush production

Kolkata: Harvest during the first flush of tea in Darjeeling and Dooars, which produces the finest variety of the crop, is likely to get hit owing to lack of rainfall during March this year. But the lower Assam crop looks promising after continuous rainfall in March.

The Tea Board of India held a meeting with the Darjeeling Tea Association representatives on Friday to take stock of the situation. “Although there was a little dry spell at the beginning it has started raining in Darjeeling from yesterday,” said Basudeb Banerjee, chairman of the Tea Board of India.

“We will be happy with 9 million kg production this year in Darjeeling,” Banerjee said. Last year, Darjeeling produced around 8.2 mkgs.

Production in Darjeeling has been a little delayed this year as the leaves took longer to sprout due to lack of rainfall at the initial stage. “This will have a cascading effect on the second flush,” said Sandeep Mukherjee, secretary of the Darjeeling branch of Darjeeling Tea Association.

The industry feels that the lull period or ‘bungee period’ between the first and second flush is likely to delay the harvest during second flush which is due in May.

While first flush is 20% of the total production in Darjeeling, second flush is also of the similar amount. “We think there will be a 35% drop in the production of first flush,” said Datta.

According to S Patra, secretary of the Indian Tea Association (ITA), the tea gardens in the north have been keen on maintaining the quality of the produce. “There could be a drop in quantity but not in quality,” said Patra.

Weather conditions in upper Assam has not been favourable during March. Moreover, the crop was also hit by helopeltis and red spider mites. Areas like Bibrugarh and Tingri have received considerable rainfall during March. Rainfall in places like Mangaldai in lower Assam was also favourable during the period.

“There has been erratic weather condition in last few years with too much of precipitation at times and long dry spells. Since it has started raining in Darjeeling already, the crop will not be affected much,” said Banerjee.

Source: Financial Express