Frost in parts of Munnar and dipping temperatures in the Nilgiris have reportedly hit plucking of tea leaves, which could lead to a 15-20 per cent drop in production in January.

The unusual weather pattern in the growing regions has affected arrivals in the auctions as well, with the Coonoor trading centre reporting a 20-25 per cent drop, and a similar trend expected in the coming weeks. The drop in the Kochi auction centre was around 10-15 per cent.

Around 250 hectares of plantations have been affected by the winter conditions in the Nilgiris and initial estimates put the production loss at 10-15 per cent. The loss could be higher with the temperature expected to drop further in the coming days, said UPASI officials.

In Munnar, according to officials, the impact would be much higher with the temperature reaching sub-zero levels in several estates, leading to frost. They estimate a production loss of 20-25 per cent. These are initial estimates and a clear picture would be available once the situation returns to normal, the officials said.

Dhananjayan, president, Nilgiri Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association, said the winter has been harsh this year compared to the two previous years, affecting plucking of tea in the Kotagiri, Coonoor, and Ooty regions. Normally, tea production in January is on the lower side, averaging 45,000 kg to 50,000 kg. But this time, the sector expects a 50 per cent drop in January , he said.

Frost has also affected tea plantations in the Peermedu and Vandiperiyar regions, damaging both buds and leaves. This would hit production in the coming weeks, said Y.C. Stephen, president of the Idukki Small Tea Growers’ Federation.

Forbes, Ewart & Figgis, the auctioneers in Kochi, said CTC dust market was strong and irregularly dearer with 96 per cent of the offered quantity of 7,72,892 kg sold. The average price realisation in sale 2 was also up by Rs 2 at Rs 145, against Rs 143 in the previous week. There was good participation from blenders and together they absorbed 61 per cent of the total quantity sold.