USLTG Executive Committee Nominations

Election Graphicsby Nigel Melican

We are now seeking nominations for Executive Committee positions. Term of office is 12 months beginning August 1, 2015.

 

Executive Committee positions are:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Atlantic Coast Chapter member
  • Gulf Coast Chapter member
  • Pacific Coast Chapter member
  • Membership Coordinator
  • Media Coordinator

You may nominate a person for one or more position, or you may nominate yourself. Nominations must be received by May 31, 2015. Please send your nomination to one or more of the Nominations Committee members below:

Please send nomination, to a member of the Nominations Committee, in this format:

I (name)____________ nominate (name)_____________(email address)____________ for the position of (state position) ____________ on the Executive Committee of the US League of Tea growers.

The Nominations Committee will follow up with your Nominee to confirm their acceptance and eligibility.

Timeline for the election process is:

  • May 31, 2015         Deadline for nominations
  • June 2, 2015          Nomination slate announced by President
  • June 22, 2015        Electoral ballot by email opens
  • June 27, 2015        Electoral ballot by email closes
  • August 1, 2015      Exec Committee Officers and Members commence term

Thank you in advance for your nominations and we look forward to debuting our new Executive Committee in the coming months!

 

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Get Your Georgian Tea Seed!

Georgian Tea Seedsby Nigel Melican

I am taking orders now for cold hardy Georgian (Russian) tea seed parented by famous Soviet cultivar, Kokhida. Our first batch of 70,000 seeds sold out before it arrived in the USA. To confirm your order, please email Nigel Melican at nigel@teacraft.com.

Minimum order is 100 seeds.

Pricing: 

  • 100 to 900 is $26 per 100
  • 1000 to 4,900 is $22 per 100
  • 5,000+ seed is $19 per 100

**Packing/shipping costs are additional and based on quantity of seeds purchased. All orders subject to release by USDA inspection at port of entry.

Quality, Darjeeling Tea Seeds Available!

Tea SeedsLooking to propagate tea from seed but not sure where to source from? Look no further! We expect seed to be available in the USA towards end of October. It is freshly collected, high viability out crossed seed from quality Darjeeling gardens sited above 6,000 ft to ensure some cold hardiness. This is a team effort! Nigel Melican (Teacraft) is sourcing the seeds in-person in India and Jason McDonald (Great Mississippi Tea Company), will handle the invoicing and shipping once the seeds have cleared customs. The seeds will be phytosanitary inspected by the USDA and free of diseases and pests.

Pricing

Price is $.22 a seed (plus shipping dependent upon value of order). Minimum order is 100 seeds.

  • 100 to 1,000 ($22 per 100 seed)
  • 1,100 to 5,000 ($18 per 100 seed
  • 5,100+ ($15 per 100 seed)

To order, receive an estimate, or for tea seed questions, please contact Nigel at Teacraft (nigel@teacraft.com). Order not firm until payment made.

Tea Scale

Copyright S. Bambara

Copyright S. Bambara

Tea Scale. Not the kind you weigh the tea on. These insects infest the plants, feeding on the leaf and cause yellowing on the surface.  Thanks to the #TeaAcrossAmerica initiative, tea scale and its’ treatment was recently brought up in discussion.  Nigel Melican to the rescue!  Thank you to Tealet for providing Nigel with the platform to help both the large scale and backyard tea growers!  And such simple solutions too!

Challenges to Growing Tea in the USA

Thank you to the Andalusia Star News  for this picture of Bob Sims (Andalusia Tea) and Nigel Melican prepping the fields for tea in Alabama!

Thank you to the Andalusia Star News for this picture of Bob Sims (Andalusia Tea) and Nigel Melican prepping the fields for tea in Alabama!

by Nigel Melican – Teacraft, Ltd.

Nobody said that growing tea in the USA was going to be easy – so I think it’s time to look at some of the challenges that face the intrepid US tea grower.  Most of the traditional tea growing systems around the world rely on hand labor to solve their problems – but US growers must find innovative low labor ways around these.

And remember, every problem is an opportunity in disguise, so in no particular order we have to find answers to:

Weeds in Young Tea – when tea is mature the cover should be thick enough to smother weeds – but young tea is particularly susceptible to the competition. The cost of hand weeding is out and most growers will avoid herbicides, so we need a smart solution to the first three years.

Effective planting by machine – faced with planting 5,000 young bushes into every acre we shall need a dedicated machine system to plant them safely and swiftly into the ground.  Machine planters do exist but are designed to plant shallow for tiny root balls or deep for bare root plants.  No planter has been found that will handle tea plants propagated in the traditional way.  An opportunity for a bright engineer here!

Nursery handling for machine planting – propagation and growing-on techniques will have to be modified to match the capability of the planting machine – the traditional 1 gallon pot is not going to cut it for tea planting. The horticultural industry has solved bigger problems.

Minimizing nursery time – every month in the nursery is a month’s yield lost in the field.  Traditionally tea plants take 12-18 months in the nursery to grow strong enough for transferring into field conditions.  Techniques to produce vigorous young tea plants in significantly reduced nursery time are essential to the bottom line.  Again, this can be done if pressure is put on horticulturalists to devise effective systems.

Breeding for season extension – similarly, starting to flush harvestable leaf a week or two earlier or to keep producing into the fall will add profitability.  US summers are short compared to many tea countries where leaf flushes all year round.  It’s a tough target – but one that has been cracked in other crops.

Nutrient management – soil nutrition is expensive whether the fertilizer inputs are produced organically or from non-renewable fossil sources.  We have to aim to optimize yield and quality while minimizing nutrient inputs.  This requires knowledge of crop responses, precise monitoring of nutrient balance, and effective management of the system.  With this ability in place, we can both reduce nutrient wastage and improve the environment.

Managing formative pruning – traditionally the first three years of a tea bush’s life are devoted to skilled hand pruning that forms a strong branched structure that bears the plucking table.  It may involve redesigning the bush for mechanical husbandry.  Can we shape bushes entirely by machine?  Can we do it more quickly?  Can we improve on the hand pruned table format?  A breakthrough here will pay dividends – failure will be a millstone around tea growers’ necks.

Mechanical harvesting – while corn and cotton have been mechanically harvested for decades it is a new technique for tea, but essential to the larger scale US grower.  We need to build on the best techniques and develop them.  This means sourcing and importing Japanese tea harvesters – which at present are precluded from import into the USA by Federal EPA regulations – another bridge to cross!

USLTG will be working on behalf of all US tea growers to encourage universities, public bodies, forward thinking private companies, and Individual growers to come up with working solutions to these challenges – and doubtless many others that will arise as the industry develops. We MUST start thinking of these things now before it is too late. Remember that what we do now is the standard for decades to come. We appreciate any support or feedback on any of these initiatives.