Albino Tea Cultivars

Winter has set in for the United States. Have you noticed any color changes in your tea plants?

This post from Italian tea blogger Domenico could help explain pale leaves in your tea plants.

Quello che mi passa per la tazza

In recent days, my attention was drawn to a particular cultivar of tea: the albino tea cultivar.
I accidentally discovered the existence of this type of cultivar, then intrigued I started looking for it was anything special compared to the other cultivars of Camellia Sinensis.

There are two main types of albino cultivars, light-sensitive and another thermosensitive.
The light sensitive albino cultivar manifested most clearly its characteristics when it is more exposed to light, in fact the leaves of these plants are clearer precisely in summer when the light exposure is stronger.

Leaves belonging to a light-sensitive albino tea cultivar. For ten days a part of the leaf has been less exposed to sunlight. As you can observe as you can see this part of the leaf has become greener, indicating greater amount of chlorophyll. Fonte:Effect of sunlight shielding on leaf structure and amino acids concentration of light sensitive albino tea plant Wang K. R. 1,2 , Li N. N. 1 , Du Y. Y. 1 and Liang Y. R. 1. African Journal of Biotechnology Leaves belonging to a light-sensitive albino tea cultivars. For ten days a part of the leaf has been less exposed to sunlight. As you can observe as you can see this part of the leaf has become greener, indicating greater amount of chlorophyll.
Fonte:Effect of sunlight shielding on leaf structure and amino
acids concentration of light sensitive albino…

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Tea Geese?

Tea Geese (MSU)by Naomi Rosen

A few months ago, a picture on my FB feed showed geese weeding a field. For a farmer looking for organic alternatives, this is a unique option. The researchers at MSU thought the same thing and are now conducting a 2-year study on weeder geese and tea fields. Judson LeCompte, Research Associate at Mississippi State University, was gracious enough to take a few minutes and answer some questions about the geese and the study. He also sent me some ridiculously cute pictures! Enjoy!

USLTG: What sparked the interest in researching weeder geese?

Judson: As we have been looking at factors that would affect tea growers in Mississippi, weed control kept coming up as a problem that we didn’t have a very good answer to. We can use a few different herbicides, but what happens if a grower wants to be organic? One day while talking with one of our growers, he mentioned the idea of using geese. I thought he was crazy but I looked into it. There were a couple of studies done in the 1990s, but nothing recent. I called him and asked why he thought this was such a great idea, and he said, “Judson, if it doesn’t work it will make a good story.” So far he was right, it has been very interesting. People give you really funny looks when you have 12 geese walking behind you on campus.

USLTG: What type of geese are these? Tea Geese (MSU) 4

Judson: Our geese are White Chinese Geese. This breed was developed from the Swan Goose, Anser cygnoides, in Asia as a dual purpose breed for both meat and egg production.

USLTG: Does the type of goose matter? Can you do this with any breed?

Judson: Maybe. It depends on your intent. If you have a crop that is fragile, like young tea plants, it is important to have a smaller breed, like the Chinese Goose. If you were growing something like mature fruit trees, a larger meat breed like Embden Geese would be suitable and you would have a larger bird for slaughter. Chinese Geese also have a longer neck allowing them to get in places other geese might not be able to reach. They are a noisier breed, so hopefully it will make them more intimidating to predators. But overall many breeds have been used as biological weed control for hundreds of years.

USLTG: Are there certain crops this is ideal for? 

Judson: From my research I have found they have been used to weed alfalfa, asparagus, beans, beets, berries, castor, citrus, cotton, grapes, herbs, hops, melons, onions, potatoes, and trees. The key is that they prefer to forage on tender shoots, leaving behind tougher shoots with a waxy cuticle.

Tea Geese (MSU) 2USLTG: Are there other regions that practice this type of weed control?

Judson: In the U.S. there are some organic farmers that utilize geese for weed control. Internationally, China has been using weeder geese for hundreds of years. Geese were widely used across the U.S. until the introduction of conventional herbicides. These herbicides gave excellent control allowing farmers to produce a higher yields and eliminating the need for geese.  It is important to note that each grower will have to determine the amount of weeds that are suitable for their cropping system. Geese are not going to give control that would be similar to conventional herbicides.

USLTG: How do you keep the geese from leaving?

Judson: Our geese are still in a brooder which is just a place to keep them warm and dry until they are fully feathered. Once they get fully feathered they will permanently go to a fenced holding pen. When they go to the research plots to weed they will also be fenced to a certain area of tea field. Right now we go on walks around the farm to let them graze for a couple of hours a day. They have imprinted on me and will follow me everywhere. I should change my job title to “The Goose Father.” They are domesticated so they generally will not fly. If we do have one that likes to be adventurous, we can trim the flight feathers from one wing to make them unbalanced when they try to fly. This procedure doesn’t hurt them, it is like getting a haircut. They are also easy to herd and move where you want them to go, so for farmers that don’t want to fence in their field they can just herd them like sheep.

USLTG: How do you figure out the number of geese you would need? 

Judson: There are a few recommendations around but I think a farmer should learn as they go. Each farm is going to be different in regards to weed pressure, crop, types of weeds, and climate. A figure we are going off of is 6-10 geese per acre. Keep in mind the geese do not have to weed 24/7, they can be held in a pen until weeding is necessary. You could have 50 geese per acre but they wouldn’t be able to graze as long per acre and you would have to supplement their diet with feed.

USLTG: How much do these geese eat? Tea Geese (MSU) 3

Judson: Right now our goslings are almost 4 weeks old and they eat loads! Research that I have seen with the Canada Goose shows they eat around 4 pounds a day in green forage.

USLTG: Where would one begin if they were interested in doing something similar on their farm?

Judson: Information and research on geese as a biological weed control has been limited. We are hoping to be able to share our results and management techniques, but that will be once the study is complete. Currently there are a few sites for hobbyists and many of the hatcheries provide information on using geese as weeders. Also, check with your state extension office, they should have information on raising geese.

A huge thank you to Judson for sharing his experiences and expertise. We will check in with Judson periodically to see how the geese are doing and find out the latest news. Do you have any experience working with feeder geese? Have questions about this form of weed control? We want to hear about it!

 

Who’s Got Swag?

SwagWe are in the process of putting together “swag bags” for the participants in the upcoming 2015 US Tea Grower’s Round-Up.

If you have a tea business, nursery business, or a related business, please feel free to send us samples, promotional items, or any other items that will be included in the swag bags for the participants.

We are looking to fill 40 bags, so please make sure that you send items in multiples of 40. This is an opportunity to do a little free advertising/networking.

Please send all items to:
Jason McDonald
The Great Mississippi Tea Company
2572 East Lincoln Rd SE
Brookhaven, MS 39601

All items MUST be received by Monday, February 16, 2015, in order to be included in the bags.

We thank you in advance for the support and hope to see you at the Round-up!

US Grown Tea Awarded North American Tea Conference Gold Cup

NATC Gold Cup WinnerBy: Elyse Petersen

The first North American Tea Competition Gold Cup for the United States was awarded to the delicate Spring White Tea of Hawaii Rainforest Tea of Kurtistown, Hawaii. This tea cultivated and processed with the passion of tea grower Bob Jacobson (see video of Bob and his tea) has been turning heads as it has recently entered the market within the past few years.  This is not the first tea processed in the United States, but it is the first one to be recognized on an international platform, introducing the United States as a legitimate tea-growing region.

At the 5th Annual North American Tea Competition, dozens of teas were submitted by top tea producers and traders and judged per country of origin. A long line of Indian teas were judged using the same standards next to lines of teas from Japan, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Kenya. Each origin offered its own style of tea, providing a difficult decision for each judge to choose the best of each country. At the end of the table was the placard indicating the “United States” category. This is the first year that a tea was entered in this category. Bob Jacobson’s Hawaii Spring White tea was a shining star on the table, introducing to the world to “US Grown Tea.”

During the competition many people were buzzing with the talk of this US grown tea and its clean look and pristine pluck quality. Many were shocked to hear that tea was growing in the US, while a few others had already been keeping up with the story and were familiar with Bob’s tea and Tealet’s work. By the time the award ceremony took place and the winners were announced it was questionable whether or not the Spring White tea would be awarded the Gold Cup considering it was the only entry. To our great surprise it was given the award despite the lack of competition.

This is the start of US Grown Tea becoming an international contender in the global high quality tea arena. Although tea has been grown in the US for decades, this is the first time it has been presented to the tea community as a high quality, artisanal product on such an international stage. Bob Jacobson of Hawaii Rainforest Tea is not the only grower producing fine quality tea. This is going to motivate other growers to come forward with their teas and further increase the opportunity for US grown tea.

If you are interested in tasting Bob Jacobson’s award-winning tea, you can order a 15 gram sample here. If you are a tea retailer and interested in purchasing this tea in bulk, (only 5 kg of the Spring harvest were produced) you can email info@tealet.com and ask if you qualify as a wholesale buyer and a team member will reply with further information and instructions for ordering.

Decaf Tea Plants?

UNHYou read that right: Tea plants that produce a leaf that is decaffeinated, or close to it! We’ve got some excellent work coming out of our universities regarding tea growth and production! Visit  WorldTeaNews.com, to read up on how the University of New Hampshire is using genetics to produce a tea leaf that is lower in caffeine.

We’d love to hear your thoughts!