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Author Topic: Extra short plucking rounds.  (Read 2780 times)
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Ian Gardner
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« on: September 03, 2008, 12:42:52 AM »

Below is an extract from my book:

Because mature fibres in the stalks of plucked leaf were detrimental to good quality manufactured tea, pluckers were made to spend up to half an hour, three times a day before their leaf was weighed, that is one and a half hours per day in eight, picking out as many stalks as possible. This, to me, was a terrible waste of time, and the process also resulted in bruising of the leaf to some extent - also detrimental to the quality of the final product.

I concluded that if the fields were plucked every two or three days, and the shoots to be plucked carefully selected, three things would happen viz. 1. Over-maturity of stalks would be eliminated, thus eliminating the need for picking over the leaf prior to weighing, 2. The pluckers would have an extra hour and a half per day for work productive for themselves (they were paid an incentive bonus over a certain weight plucked) as well as the Company, and 3. Since all shoots were picked at optimum maturity they would be at optimum weight and, therefore, increase yield.
So, how to put this into practice?

I started by selecting from the very best of the "new field" pluckers a mature and respected lady who, together with the "new field" Kangany, reported to me the following day in No. 2 Field. I spent the day with this plucker teaching her to pick only those shoots that were ready, and leave anything that would be exactly ready in three days time. The Kangany learned by listening and observing. On the next day, I introduced another of the best pluckers who was taught by the first and me and observed by the Kangany. On the day after that, two new pluckers were introduced and each was taught by the experienced two. On the day after that, four recruits were selected and taught by the earlier four. Next, eight for eight and so on till all the new field pluckers, between thirty and forty if I remember correctly, were trained. Meanwhile, of course, the Plucking KP and others were brought into the picture.

There was another discipline that had to be rigorously enforced, apart from the other usual ones such as maintaining levels, and that was that of always leaving at least one leaf above the first leaf, usually a modified one (small and thick), "for the bush". The theory was that a full leaf should be left "for the bush" so as to maintain its canopy and maintain the process of photosynthesis by which it produced new leaf. This was a constant and valid battle on all plantations, and in this new practice I said that I would fine each plucker fifty cents, a high fine, for each error in this regard, and there was a 25c fine for other infringements. The end result was that we plucked the new fields every three days and the pluckers harvested huge quantities, sometimes 130 lbs/day or more (it could have been 180) compared with say 80 lbs/day previously, and earned excellent money; so much so that they used to say, ' Dorai, we don't care if you fine us 50c per "strip" , we are earning so much that it does not matter!' In fact, there was little or no stripping; that which occurred was not intentional. For reasons I cannot remember I did not introduce this practice on any other plantation.


Did anyone else try this? Any comments on this? Any questions?
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Ian Gardner
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2016, 10:10:01 PM »

A few days ago, some sixty two years after I did this type of plucking, I did a calculation of the cost of doing this but the state of my eighty two year old brain did not allow me to complete the exercise! However, it did seem to me hat, if this policy were to be introduced over a division or an estate it would involve extra labour without necessarily involving and increase in C.O.P. as there would be an increase in yield and a decrease in stalk extraction, wastage etc.
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