Effect of shading intensity on morphological and color traits and on chemical components of new tea (Camellia sinensis L.) shoots under direct covering cultivation

Tomohito Sano, Hideki Horie, Akiko Matsunaga, Yuhei Hirono
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 2018, 98 (15): 5666-5676

BACKGROUND: Use of covering cultivation to shade tea (Camellia sinensis L.) trees to produce high-quality, high-priced green tea has recently increased in Japan. Knowledge of shading effects on morphological and color traits and on chemical components of new tea shoots is important for product quality and productivity. We assessed these traits of tea shoots and their relationships under covering cultivation of various radiation intensities.

RESULTS: Leaf thickness, leaf mass per area, and leaf density of new tea leaves were smaller under covering culture than under open-field culture. SPAD values and chlorophyll contents were larger under covering culture than under open culture. The derived exponential equation for estimating chlorophyll contents from SPAD values was improved by considering leaf thickness. Covering culture decreased epicatechin and epigallocatechin contents, and increased theanine and caffeine contents. Principal component analysis on shoot and leaf traits indicated that leaf mass per area, chlorophyll, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin contents were strongly associated with shading effects.

CONCLUSION: The morphological traits, color traits, and chemical components of new tea shoots and leaves varied depending on radiation intensity, shoot growth, and cropping season. These findings are useful for covering cultivation with high quality and high productivity in tea gardens. © 2018 Society of Chemical Industry.

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