Thursday, August 2, 2012

Seeding The Future

While planting tea from cuttings (clones) is the norm these days, in the old days tea gardens were populated with seeds. There is some debate as to which is better.

Seed plants are really slow growing and due to sexual reproduction one is never sure of the character of the final product. Clonal tea plants on the other hand are faster growing and the tea character is known well in advance. As a result most farmers do not prefer seed plants.

However it is important not to go the Gros Michel way. Sexual reproduction shuffles the gene pool continuously building up a variety of tea plants. This will ensure the survival of some tea plants in an event of a deadly disease.

Long and really long term versus short and medium term. Take your pick.

Images: Propagating tea seeds at Jun Chiyabari at ca. 1835m (July 2012).
Top and Second from top:  Tea seeds that had been soaked overnight are placed on a carefully prepared nursery bed.
Third from top: Seeds are carefully patted down into the soil.
Fourth from top: A thin layer of soil is added to cover the soil
Bottom: Plastic sheeting covers the seed nursery to protect it from the elements and to generate some warmth. 

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