KOCHI: The sub-zero temperature in Munnar has led to severe crop loss in tea plantations in the region. An officer of Kanan Devan Hills Plantations Company Pvt Ltd (KDHP Company) told Express that 828 hectares of tea plantations have been affected by the frost in Munnar. The loss is estimated at 6.31 lakh kg of crop, he said.
During 2018 January too, the company lost 6.31 lakh kg of crop when the mercury dipped to -2 degree Celsius in the hill station, which is also home to some of the biggest tea estates in the state, including the Tatas (2 estates), Harrisons Malayalam (3 estates), Good Prayar Group in addition to the KDHPC. The loss has been the same during 2018 too, when the temperature dropped to -2 degree Celsius in Munnar. However, last year the area affected for KDHP Company was low at 734 hectares.
“We have not calculated the loss during Friday and Saturday. Once the figure comes, it is likely that the loss might shoot up further,” the officer said. Though tea can bear the cold weather, it can’t stand the frost. Last couple of years have seen Munnar tea plantations hit by frost. Experts said there are two kinds of frost, one is white frost and another is black frost. Frost is found on the surface of leaves and makes leaves white, damaging the leaves.
The ideal weather for tea production is 15 degree Celsius. “What has made the damage more widespread is the continuous spell of sub-zero weather from January 1 over a vast area of tea plantations,” the official said. Normally when the frost falls on tender leaves, water is sprinkled to salvage the crop. However, this is not possible when frost falls over hectares and hectares of tea leaves.