The Influence Of Plant Density On Dry Matter Production And Partitioning And Yield In Young Clonal Tea In Kenya
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Dry matter production and partitioning and yields in clonal tea bushes planted at 3 different spacings (0.30 x 0.30 m; 0.61 x 0.61 m; and 1.22 x 1.22m) and brought into plucking at 2 different heights (0.25 m and 0.50 m) were investigated. After 36 months of growth the bushes at close spacing (0.30 x 0.30 m) produced 1.1 and 2 times dry matter than bushes grown at medium (0.61 x 0.61 m) and wide (1.22 x 1.22 m) spacings, respectively. The bushes at close spacing had less leaf percentage of total dry matter than those at medium and wide spacings. However, the bushes at wide spacing had less frame percentage of total dry matter than those at close spacing. There were no significant differences in the root percentages between bushes at the 3 spacings. The harvest index of the bushes grown at close spacing was 13% and 16% higher than those of the bushes at medium and wide spacings, respectively. Similarly, bushes at close spacing produced yields 2 and 3 times more than bushes at medium and wide spacings, respectively. The bushes at wide spacing had significantly higher leaf/frame ratio than those bushes at close spacing. Lowering the plucking surface height reduced total dry matter in all bushes grown at the 3 spacings. The results suggest that the harvest index and yields of tea bushes can be greatly increased by reducing the size of individual bushes through increasing plant density per unit area.