Read about the research that has been ongoing into the viability of tea as an alternative crop in The Sunshine State.
Florida has hundreds of crops that grow well in the state’s climate, and it may soon have another according to a UF/IFAS blog. A UF research team has been conducting research into the viability of tea as an alternative crop in Florida, and their findings were recently published in the journal “HortTechnology,” a publication of the American Society for Horticultural Science. See their findings below.
Tea as an Alternative Crop
Tea is a popular product all around the world, but it is “still considered a specialty in commercial production for the United States” according to the article. There would likely be a high demand for tea grown in The Sunshine State.
The research team grew eight different kinds of tea plants—called “accessions” and measured their growth during the three-to-five-year growth period, which includes when the plants’ reach maturity and are harvestable. Research team member and UF/IFAS assistant professor with the department of plant pathology, Brantlee Richter, maintained that the researchers did little to affect the growth of the plants. “We started with eight varieties, and one of them had 100% mortality… We put weed cloth in to manage the intense weed pressure here in Florida and used a drip irrigation system, but otherwise, we didn’t do anything to baby these plants. They were out there in the harsh Florida sun, and we even had a hurricane remnant hit the plot during the study period. Even tropical storm-force winds didn’t seem to faze the plants or cause them to lose a lot of leaves.”
The research team found the accession variety called Fairhope performed the best. UF/IFAS professor of horticultural sciences, and another research team member, Bala Rathinasabapathi, said “We feel that North-Central Florida is pretty good in terms of climate for growing tea, and tea likes acidic soil, just as citrus does. In South Florida, we would have to do more experimentation to find out whether tea can grow in a truly tropical region with harsher temperature conditions.”
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