At Tanganda with harsher growing conditions, it has been proven that to obtain commercially viable yields and produce an acceptable medium price tea range, a plucking regime of 75 percent three leaves and a bud was established. Buyers were pleased with this and tea packed by the Beverage Division improved.
There are basically three different forms of plucking - the traditional method by hand, hand held shears, or mechanical ride on machines.
Hand Plucking: With strict discipline and set standards, produces the best quality tea. During the plucking process, great care must be taken not to damage the leaf and when the plucker has a full basket (approximately 10 kgs), he or she takes the basket to a weighing point where he is credited with the weight plucked, a single plucker can average 70 kgs in a day, depending on the "flush" growth.
Hand Shears: These are hedge type clippers with a catcher tray attached, where pluckers throw the contents of the tray over the shoulder into their back strap basket. This system can produce up to 150 kgs a day, but it is difficult to control the standard of leaf, as the plucker is inclined to dip into the bush and remove immature shoots and maintenance leaf.
Mechanical Plucking: Over the last decade, the availability of seasonal pluckers has proved to be a problem and Tanganda has had to look at mechanisation.
Hand Held Machines: Proven hand held machines from Japan are operated by a three or five man team, and like the hand held shears, control of quality is difficult. If the plucking rounds are kept to no more than 12 days, however, the standard of leaf is acceptable. With hand held machines, maintenance costs are high and it is essential to have back up repairs. Each of these machines is capable of harvesting about the equivalent from 18 hand pluckers.
Ride On Machines: The terrain limits the area that these machines can operate - about 50 percent of the plantations is suitable. Old and new plantations have to be carefully prepared, particularly the paths on which the machines run, to ensure that the ground level is parallel with the plucking table.
The unit is operated by one man and productivity is good and improving, almost the equivalent of 40 hand pluckers. Maintenance capital costs are high and it is also necessary to have quick back up repairs to keep up productivity. Plucking rounds should be no more than 12 days during the high flush period.
As an addition to our traditional hand plucking a proportion
of machine plucking is essential machine plucking.
Hand plucking ensures the highest quality teas are produced.