As temperature levels dip amidst peaking winter, tea production has taken a drastic hit in the Nilgiris, the largest tea producing district in South India.

Night temperature has been ruling at single digits in most tea plantation pockets in the district and reports of frost-bite instances have come in.

Growth retarded

“We had a spell of frost two nights. Tea bushes in the low-lying pockets of our estate in Kotagiri have suffered frost-bite. Temperatures are declining in the nights and we fear a more severe frost-bite to occur soon,” Dinesh Raju, a small grower, told BusinessLine.

“The untimely and prolonged rains of November and December have caused retardation in the growth of tea leaves. What the bushes need for recovery is good sunshine but what is in store for them is frost-bite. Bushes which have suffered frost-bite will not reach production stage for at least two months,” he said.

Production hit

“Already, due to winter conditions, tea harvesting has been hit. Factories are receiving only about 20,000 kg of green leaf for processing per week against 50-60,000 kg normally. Consequently, factories are working for only four days a week and that too on single shifts. Our production has fallen by 60 per cent,” Ramesh Bhojarajan, President, The Nilgiris Bought Leaf Tea Manufacturers’ Association, said.

Also the local festival season and holidays have led to a shortage of workforce in the factories thus interrupting the production process.

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