Evaluation of alternative tea (Camellia sinensis L. Kuntze) propagation and nursery systems
McConnaughey, Jeffrey Philip
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In order to identify efficient methods of producing field-ready tea (Camellia sinensis) liners in the southeastern U.S., studies were undertaken to measure the growth of young tea liners under alternative propagation systems and their respective costs of production. Single-node tea cuttings were rooted in three rooting substrates in containers in a greenhouse as well as in native soil and a layer of sand in-ground under shaded low tunnels with or without biofumigation treatments. Strike rates, biomass, and root length were measured 20 weeks after sticking. Rooted liners were then transplanted from the ground or containers to pots or left in situ under 20% shade. Survival, biomass and leaf area were measured 27 weeks later in late May. Marketability rates were determined in September. Production costs for each system were then accounted and estimated across variable scales of production for cost-volume-profit analysis and the NPV of purchasing liners rather than propagating them on-farm for prospective tea growers.