Sri Lanka’s tea production dips in Aug on bad weather, high fertilizer prices

Sept 28 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s tea crop production dropped in August on a combination of bad weather and reduced use of fertilizer on estates due to soaring costs.

Tea production in August dropped 11.7 percent to 21.8 million kilos over 24.69 million kilos the year before, as crops were hit by extended dry spells followed by excessive rain, Asia Siyaka Commodity Brokers said.

“The irregular weather pattern has been the primary cause for this year’s production drop. A hitherto unknown element in this equation has been the drop in fertilizer application following escalating prices,” Asia Siyaka said in a weekly tea report.

This is the fifth consecutive month where Sri Lanka’s tea production has been lower than last year, with year to date intakes also down three percent from 216.6 million kilos to 210 million kilos.

Black tea production dropped 7.5 million kilos from January to August, but production of green tea picked up by about a million kilos over the same period.

All three tea growing elevations high, mid and low grown elevation teas have not performed as well as last year, though high and mid grown elevations is the worst hit.

High grown teas are down eight percent from 56.3 million kilos to 51.9 million kilos as at end August, while medium teas are down six percent from 37.7 million kilos to 35.5 million kilos over the same period.

Low Growns are almost holding on, Asia Siyaka says, with the cumulative performance from January to August just 0.8 percent behind with production at 120 million kilos.

“Sri Lanka would need a strong fourth quarter yielding a highest ever 83-84 million kilos, together with a sharp recovery in September if the 2005 record of 317 million kilos is to be achieved,” Asia Siyaka said.

Sri Lanka last achieved the highest ever fourth quarter production in 2002 of 82.6 million kilos. Last year, fourth quarter production was a disappointing 75.5 million kilos.