TOMCAT and Tea Tree in KZN

The tea tree industry in KwaZulu-Natal has seen a significant growth in the last couple of years. This can be attributed mainly to poor sugar prices and farmers looking to diversify. Most of KZN’s tea tree gets produced along the North and South Coast with some being found in the PMB and Dargle areas of the Midlands.Essential oil crops do well in temperate, Mediterranean and subtropical regions, and most of them do well in many parts of South Africa.

TOMCAT Chippers has been fortunate to be part of this process and we have seen a trend towards farmers purchasing chippers to chip their tea trees infield and deliver chipped product to the steam pots.

The benefit of using wood chipper for tea tree farming to chip branches infield versus chipping directly into the steam pots is a huge saving for the farmer, as he is then able to reduce transport costs considerably. By chipping the tea tree, the volume can be reduced by up to 70%. In layman’s terms that means that for every 10 loads of branches you would usually transport, you only need to transport 3 loads – thus a huge fuel saving.

The tea trees are cut using clearing saws and carried to roadside where they are chipped into trailers for transport. The trees are typically cut once a year and will then coppice for the following year’s production. The steam pots used vary from 500kg to 2 tons. For every 2 tons of tea tree steamed, the yield is approximately 23 l of tea tree oil. Most of South Africa’s production gets exported.

Productivity of a wood chipper for tea tree farming

Production throughput on the chippers varies depending on the size of the chipper, but operators manage to chip 3 tons every 1 ½  hours through the gravity units. Our hydraulic feed 200mm chipper fills a two-ton pot in approximately 45mins. As with all our chippers, the secret is KEEP YOUR BLADES SHARP.

Some Uses of Tea Tree Oil

  • Hand Sanitizer. Tea tree oil makes an ideal natural hand sanitizer.
  • Insect Repellent. Tea tree oil may help keep pesky insects away.
  • Natural Deodorant.
  • Antiseptic for Minor Cuts and Scrapes.
  • Boosts Wound Healing.
  • Fights Acne.
  • Gets Rid of Nail Fungus.
  • Chemical-Free Mouthwash.