This is a very delicate operation and needs adequate planning and proper supervision. Correctly planted tea plants establish in the field quickly, grow vigorously and come into full bearing earlier. On the other hand, a slight error during planting can cause high percentage of mortality or permanent setback to the plants.
Time of planting
Planting can be done in April-June and September-October or October-November with adequate irrigation. Periods of heavy rains should be avoided.
Type of plants used for planting
Only healthy plants 40-60 cm high with at least 12 good mature leaves and of pencil (0.5 cm) thickness (at collar) should be taken for planting in field. In general, 9 to 12 month old plants attain this stage. Sub-standard plants should be discarded. Before plants are removed from nursery, they should be hardened by gradual exposure to full sun. Transportation of the plants to the planting site in field should be done with utmost care and only after proper labelling.
Type of planting
There are two types of planting, i.e., pit planting and trench planting.
This method is followed when spacing between plants is wide enough to allow digging of individual pits of proper size and without much difficulty. Pits should be about 45 cm wide and 45 cm deep, circular and straight walled. Smaller pits restrict root growth and retard shoot growth and development. The excavated soil is conditioned by mixing with 4-5 kg well-decomposed cattle manure or 150-200g well-decomposed oil cakes and returning the soil into the pits. No other manure is used except 30 g rock phosphate and 30g SSP at the time of planting.
This method is adopted for closer spacing and in heavy soils. Trenches 30 cm wide and 45 cm deep are dug along the rows. The excavated soil is conditioned and returned back as in case of pits and tea is planted directly on the trenches.
Method of planting
There are two methods of planting, for plants raised in nursery beds. They are bheti planting and stump planting.
Here, the plants are lifted along with the bheti and the roots intact from the nursery bed. This is convenient with plants grown in ploythene sleeves, which reduces difficulty in transportation, reduce root damage and gives a very high percentage of survival. The polythene is removed carefully by slitting the tube and the bheti is held in the pit half-filled with the conditioned soil in such a manner so that the top of the bheti is flushed with the ground surface. 30g rock phosphate is added at the bottom of the bheti and the pit is filled with soil with adequate ramming. At about 5 cm depth 30g SSP is added around the bheti and the pit is filled up to the collar of the plant with soil. Adequate ramming is necessary to prevent sinking of the pit level later, which will cause localized waterlogging. The same method can be used for plants grown in sleeves.
Plants are lifted from the nursery bed without having any soil around the roots. The shoot portion is cut off 15-20 cm from the collar and the excess roots trimmed off before putting them into the pits. This method is generally followed with overgrown nursery plants and has the advantage of easy transport and reduced chances of withering after planting. However, the percentage of survival is much less than bheti planting.
About 14000-16000 (up to 17000 in hilly areas) plants per hectare have been found to be ideal bush population with spacing of 105-110 cm between rows and 60-75 cm between plants. The planting can be done either as single or double hedge.