Sri Lanka’s January tea production will be negatively impacted by frost damage, a scenario caused by extreme temperature fluctuations during a very short period of time, a tea broker in the country said.
According to John Keells Tea Brokers, in addition to the dry weather prevailing in tea planting districts, a cold wave is sweeping over the central hills that could cause frost damage and subsequently cut production.
“With temperatures plummeting to well below 10° Celsius in the past few days, plantations in the Kandapola, Agarapatana, Lindula and Talawakelle Districts have reported frost damage. Frost damage is brought about by high day time temperature followed by very low night temperatures,” John Keells Tea Borkers said.
They further noted that the tender leaves tend to freeze when there is a rapid change in temperatures from day to night.
“Frost could cause extensive damage to all types of crop, particularly vegetables which are grown extensively in an around Nuwara Eliya. The resulting shortages could see vegetable prices skyrocketing in the coming days. Present weather is expected to continue,” the commodity brokerage said.
It also pointed out that the dry weather that is prevailing could delay the recovery of the tea bushes further—longer than the three months—that it takes under normal circumstances.
Meanwhile, commenting on Sri Lanka’s tea industry performance in 2012, the tea broking firm said the performance is satisfactory mainly due to the strong market condition that prevailed in the second half of the year, which saw a new all-time record average of Rs.391.64 per kilogram.
“The tall prices seen at the tail end of 2012 have continued into 2013 with auction averages being higher with each passing sale. The buoyant market seen at recent sales bodes well for the first quarter, as the brighter seasonal teas from the Western Sector have yet to enter the market, which could boost prices further.”
Sri Lanka’s 2012 tea production edged down 0.4 percent to end the year with 326.3 million kilograms, from 327.6 million kilograms recorded for 2011, with officials blaming adverse weather conditions for the drop in production, according to the data released by the state-run Tea Board.