Early in February 1985, the Nucifora family began picking tea seeds at Pat Byrnes Old Tea Plantation. The crew struggled against green ants and raspberry bushes to pick 4,000kgs. These seeds were taken to Cairns to be kept in cold storage until anticipated planting in early April.
In January 1985, Sybbie and Sam completed half of the arduous task of drilling holes in plastic coverings. They burn cardboard wrappers around polyethylene rolls every day. On this special Saturday, during their lunch break, the shed caught fire and the shed and thousands of dollars worth of plastic coverings were burned down. They had to grit their teeth and start again. In 300 rolls of plastic, each roll requires approximately 3,000 holes.
When they were ready to sow, some of the previously picked seeds had germinated in the bag, rendering them unusable. Fortunately, we obtained the best seeds through other means. At that time, although young tea was free of insect pests, how to control weeds and make the tea plantation reach the harvest period after about four years was a challenging task. The combination of care, patience and capital is the decisive factor for the success of the tea plantation.
≡MECHANICAL TEA PICKER
In China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other tea producing countries, tea is hand-picked. Farmers in these countries have lowwages but in Australia wages are much higher. The biggest reason for Nucifora’s success is the inventiveness of Sybbie Nucifora. Sybbie designed and built a mechanical tea picker.
The process of providing high quality fresh tea for your family is a labour intensive business which Nucifora’s has clearly turned into a labour of love. The tea estate is about 120 acres in size and is divided into 3 sections. Harvesting tea is a continuous process and takes place every 21 days. We only pick the top 2 leaves and buds so that only the finest and freshest leaves are harvested.