Munnar: Tourists are flocking to Munnar in large numbers to enjoy the cold weather, but the tea gardens in the area are suffering major losses after the mercury fell to freezing point on several days since winter set in.
The dew, which freezes on the leaves of the tea plants at night, evaporates under the sun during the day, drying up and spoiling the leaves in the process.
Over the past couple of months, the Kanan Devan company alone suffered losses amounting to Rs 75 crore in this regard. Tea leaves on 750 acres of plantations belonging to the company dried up. The leaves, weighing around 24 lakh kg, could have produced 6.30 lakh kg of tea for the market.
The lowest temperature this season, minus one degree centigrade, was recorded in Laxmi and Sevenmala estates on January 3. Gudarvilai and Nallathanny estates saw temperatures as low as zero degree centigrade, while in Chenduvarai and Mattuppetti estates, the minimum was two degrees.
The fall in production following drying up of leaves would last up to four months. Normally, tea leaves are plucked every 20 days. However, tea shrubs with dried up leaves take around a hundred days to be fit for plucking.