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Tea Production Down

Sri Lanka’s tea production for 2012 recorded 326.2 million kilos (Mkgs) compared to 327.2 Mkgs in the previous year, John Keells in a report said. Whilst Low Grown recorded a surplus of 4.5 Mkgs, High and Medium elevations recorded negative variances of 5.4 Mkgs and 0.297 Mkgs respectively.  Overall, Sri Lanka tea Industry performance in 2012 could be considered satisfactory, mainly due to the strong market condition that prevailed in the second half of the year which enabled Sri Lanka to set a new all time record average of Rs.391.64 per kg.
The tall prices seen at the tail end of 2012 has 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 has yet to enter the market which could boost prices further.
On the production front crop forecast for January does not auger well due to extreme dry weather reported from all planting districts. In addition to the dry weather, there is a cold wave sweeping over the central hills particularly in the key tea growing areas in the Western sector which could cut production. With temperatures plummeting to well below 10 0 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.  The tender leaves tend to freeze when there is a rapid change in temperatures from day to night.  The dry weather that is prevailing could delay the recovery of the tea bushes further, longer than the three months that it would take under normal circumstances. Frost could cause extensive damage to all types of crop, particularly vegetables which are grown extensively in an around Nuwara Eliya.

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