Tea and Nutrients
Mount Mulanje, Malawi
East Africa is very a important exporting Region of black tea, and countries like Kenya, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania export a large part of their high quality tea all over the World.
Tea crop consists of young leaves, which means growers are aiming at optimizing green mass production. In this case the most important single nutrient is Nitrogen. However, tea bushes are grown in the same area for several decades and nutritional requirements are much wider than Nitrogen only. Balanced fertilisation is the key for high yields year after year!
It is preferable to use Ammonium Nitrate based NPKs and not urea based NPKs. This is because of leaf quality.
Potassium source in tea NPKs can be SOP or MOP. Although older tea bushes are not very sensitive to Chloride, many experienced tea estates prefer to apply only SOP based NPKs to ensure highest possible quality of their tea.
High quality tea grown in Kenya
Typically tea is fertilised with compound NPKs containing higher amounts of Nitrogen, and the most common formulations are:
NPK 25-5-5+5S (MOP and SOP based)
Trace elements like Zn, B, Mo etc. can be added to meet local requirements. Also amount of S can be adjusted.
Aerial application of NPK 22-6-12+te in Kenya