Black tea farming in South Africa

Black tea is a well-known drink across South Africa that originates from China, but production has spread to different regions across the globe. While growing tea can be challenging, it offers farmers a good source of income. Find durable equipment for sale on AgriMag and get your tea farm off to a great start.

Black Tea Farming - Crop - AgriMag
Image Credit – deankruger from Pixabay

Growing regions

Black tea is grown in various regions across South Africa. The conditions in the Vhembe region of Limpopo and the Nkandla region of KwaZulu-Natal are suitable for growing this crop. Other areas where you’ll find black tea growing include Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape and Noordkaapriver in Mpumalanga.

Cultivators

The type of black tea you decide to grow will depend on the conditions you’re farming in. Camellia sinensis var sinensis is a Chinese tea that is suitable for farming in tough conditions. This crop can survive in cold weather as well as in times of water shortages. Another advantage of farming Chinese black tea is that the bushes have a long lifespan so your hard work will pay off for years to come. Farming Assam tea is another option. However, this variation is sensitive to cold weather and low rainfall. If you’re farming in an area with heavy rainfall, you can consider planting Assam tea.

Climatic conditions

Tropical and subtropical climates provide the best conditions for farming black tea. When it comes to cultivating a successful black tea crop, temperature is a vital consideration. The best annual temperature is between 18°C and 20°C and there should be a minimum of five hours of sunshine daily. During the plant’s growth stage, a humidity level of between 80% to 90% has the best results.

Water requirements

Black tea requires plenty of water to grow. Regions with a rainfall of 1 150mm to 6 000mm per year provide the right conditions for these plants. Supplying crops with additional water is necessary during periods of growth.

Black Tea Farming - Cup of Tea - AgriMag
Image Credit – Carolyn V on Unsplash

A sprinkler irrigation system can be used to provide sufficient water during dry periods. The amount of rainfall, as well as the soil’s reserves, should be taken into account when determining how much additional water is necessary. Regular irrigation helps to achieve maximum yields.

Soil requirements

Black tea can be grown in a variety of different soil types. Good drainage is important, and this crop thrives in sandy soil, which has a pH level of 4.5 to 5.5. Fertile soil that has a minimum depth of 2 metres is necessary for this type of crop. Tea can be grown on slopes.

Proper preparation of the soil needs to take place before planting. Soil coverage should be removed well in advance and all roots have to be cleared to decrease the risk of root rot. The coverage should not be burnt in the area where planting will take place as this has a negative impact on the quality of the soil. Weeds must be removed and the soil should be ploughed. Invest in a good quality disc plough to get the job done. Ploughing to a depth of 20cm to 40cm is necessary before using a harrow to create a level surface.

Risks

Harvesting

Weeds and pests put black tea plants at risk. Clean weeding is carried out using suitable equipment or by hand. Black tea plants are at risk from the following:
● Mites
● Mosquito bugs
● Thrips
● Scale insects
● Caterpillars
● Grasshoppers
● Termites
● Cutworms
● Cricket

Black Tea Farming - Harvesting - AgriMag
Image Credit – Samuel Phillips from Pexels

Black tea plants typically grow quickly but their growth rate is affected by the cultivator and region they’re planted in. After planting, it’s necessary to wait two to three years for the first harvest. The shoot and two leaves are picked every one to two weeks during the harvesting period. Harvesting usually takes place twice a year. Selective picking can be carried out by hand or a machine can be used.

Growing black tea is a lucrative opportunity for South African farmers. You can find the equipment you need on AgriMag.

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Guidance on black tea farming in South Africa | AgriMag Blog
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Guidance on black tea farming in South Africa | AgriMag Blog
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Black tea is a well-known drink across South Africa that originates from China, but production has spread to different regions across the globe.
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