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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2003

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Frost hits plantations in Munnar

By Our Staff Reporter

Photo: K.K. Mustafah

Workers plucking tea in a corporate plantation in Munnar.

MUNNAR DEC. 16. Large tracts of tea plantation areas here have been affected by last week's severe cold spell and unless it rains in the coming days, green leaf production would decline, according to plantation sources.

One of the coldest spells started last Tuesday and continued till Friday. Sevenmalai areas recorded minus two degrees Celsius from December 9 to 11 and continued to remain at the sub-zero level till the next morning. The maximum temperature on these days stood at 20 degrees Celsius. Areas such as Matupetti too, have been hit by frost.

Night temperature is a crucial factor for tea leaves. The severe cold condition would result in thin layers of frost settling down on the tea leaves, which would melt only in the early morning sun light. Depending on the severity of the frost condition, green leaf production gets affected for up to two months.

Usually, extreme cold condition sets in by the middle of December and continues up to the middle of January. However, it is not uncommon that these conditions set in a few days early and extend up to February, it is pointed out. This year also the incidence of frost has occurred in the traditional areas. The susceptible areas are the comparatively low lying where the aeration is less and frost will continue to be present on the leaves for a longer period.

December 9 appears to be one of the coldest days this month so far as the lowest temperature of 15 degrees Celsius was recorded by the Met Office, Thiruvananthapuram, and Cochin International Airport Ltd. (CIAL), Kochi.

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