The yield responses to drought and temperature of six contrasting tea clones were studied in a line-source irrigation experiment in Southern Tanzania. The selected clones, all commercially and/or scientifically important in eastern Africa, embrace a range of morphological and physiological types. The bushes were planted in August 1988 and differential drought treatments were imposed for 16 and 13 weeks towards the end of the dry seasons in 1990 and 1991 respectively. The resulting soil water deficits were successfully simulated using a water balance model. Under well-watered conditions Clone S15/10 (from Kenya) gave the highest yield of dry tea reaching 5600 kg ha-1 in the fourth year after planting (1991/92) compared to 3640-4420 kg ha-1 for the other five clones. During the cool season Clone SFS150 (from Malawi) yielded more than Clones 1, 207, 6/8 and K35. Although annual yields decreased curvi-linearly as the maximum soil water deficit increased, single values for the drought sensitivity of each clone could be derived by using stress time as an index of drought. On this basis Clones S15/10 and 207 were identified as being the most sensitive to drought; Clones SFS150 and 1 were drought resistant. The reasons for these differences in yield responses and the importance of determining drought sensitivity over an appropriate time period are discussed
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