Extended chill may upset Himachal’s applecartApril 16th, 2011 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS
Shimla, April 16 (IANS) Extended winter in Himachal Pradesh may turn apple production sour this season. Farmers are praying for sunny days as extremely low temperatures have started to hit the crop.
The state is one of India’s major apple-producing regions, with more than 90 percent of the produce going to the domestic market. In 2010-11, the state has a record yield of apples with over 40 million boxes of 20 kg each.
“The continuation of cold climatic conditions in the apple-growing areas is a matter of concern,” S.P. Bhardwaj, former joint director at the Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, told IANS.
“At this point in time, the crop requires warm days. A day temperature between 18 degrees and 24 degrees Celsius is ideal for fruit formation. But the prevailing average temperature below 14 degrees will have some effect on the crop.”
In most areas, the crop is in the stage of blooming - a period when flowers start to blossom.
Bhardwaj said the flowers can’t tolerate sub-zero conditions.
“Naturally, in such conditions there are bleak chances of proper fruit setting. The chilly conditions also hamper the movement of bees and butterflies that play an important role in fruit pollination.”
Kanwar Yogendra, a grower in Kotkhai in upper Shimla, said this time the bloom stage has been much extended due to the chill.
“Normally, the crop requires a week’s time from the bloom stage to the fruit setting stage. But it’s now more than 15 days and there is no fruit formation. It’s a matter of concern,” he said.
The weather office in Shimla said this year the state is witnessing extended cold due to reoccurrence of western disturbances.
“Continuous rain and snow are keeping the temperatures extremely low. The maximum temperature across the state is one to eight degrees below the average for this time of the year,” meteorological office director Manmohan Singh said.
Prominent apple belts in Kothgarh, Jubbal, Kotkhai and Thanedar in Shimla district, the entire Kullu Valley and Karsog in Mandi district received sufficient rain and thundershowers in the past two weeks despite plentiful snow during peak winter.
The apple-growing areas in Jubbal, Kotkhai and Theog were severely hit by hailstorms April 13.
Sanjay Chauhan, a prominent apple grower and general secretary of the Himachal Kisan Sabha, said fruit crops in Shimla and Kullu districts were extensively damaged by the hailstorms.
The anti-hail guns installed on a pilot basis by the government in Shimla district have failed to thwart damage.
Horticulture Minister Narender Bragta said the cannons have failed to fire due to lack of battery back-up.
“The snag has been rectified and two of the three cannons, one at Bareon Ghat and the other at Khatasu, fired successfully Thursday,” he said.
A radar that sends signals to the cannons for firing has been installed at Kharapathar.
Bragta said it’s too early to predict the expected apple yield. “The plants got sufficient chilling during winter. But the extended chill now is a matter of concern.”
Apple is the main fruit crop of the state and is grown in nine out of its 12 districts. Apple accounts for about 40 percent of the total area under all fruit crop cultivation.
Besides apple, other fruits like pear, peach, cherry, apricot, kiwi, strawberry, olive, almond and plum are the major commercial crops of the state.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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- Treat hail-caused crop loss as natural disaster, says Himachal - Jul 02, 2011
- Dry spell may upset Himachal's applecart - Jul 25, 2012
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- Early Himachal apple varieties fetch high prices - Jul 16, 2012
- Himachal needs Rs.400 crore for anti-hail guns - Aug 23, 2011
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- Snow brightens apple prospects in Himachal - Feb 24, 2010
- Himachal seeks central package for fruit crop loss - Aug 04, 2011
- Heavy snowfall in Himachal throws life out of gear but cheers fruit farmers (Lead) (With Images) - Jan 09, 2012
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