Good apple prospects in Himachal Pradesh

June 30th, 2008 - 12:39 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, June 30 (IANS) A bumper apple production in Himachal Pradesh - known as the fruit bowl of the country - is expected for the second successive year. With early varieties already in the market, apple cartons have begun to be carted to Delhi, Mumbai, Surat and Lucknow.

Though the apple season proper is yet to begin, some of the early varieties such as ‘Red Gold’, ‘Summer Green’ and ‘Red June’ from Rohru, Theog and Chopal areas in Shimla district have reached markets.

Apples from Chango, Ribba and Namgiya valley of Kinnaur district and Hurling in Spiti subdivision are always in high demand and enjoy a virtual monopoly.

Kinnaur apples come late in August and September.

The state horticulture department is hopeful of a bumper crop this year, but slightly less than the previous year record of 29.2 million boxes.

Horticulture director Gurdev Singh told IANS that the total yield could be still anything up to 25 million boxes - that would be about four million boxes less than last year’s production.

The normal production ranges from 17 million to 20 million boxes.

Singh attributed the decline in yield this year to untimely hail storms, particularly in the mid-hill areas of Kullu and Shimla districts.

However, the higher and lower hills have largely remained unaffected.

“In Kullu district, production is likely to decline by 25 percent,” said B.K. Gupta, a research officer with the horticulture department.

“Last year’s yield was seven million boxes. In Shimla district, the crop has been hit in Narkanda and surrounding areas but the prospects are good in Chopal, Rohru and Kotkhai areas,” he said.

In 2006, the state had a poor crop of only 13.4 million boxes of apples.

This season, timely and adequate snow in the apple belt have enhanced prospects of a good yield.

Apple requires conducive climatic conditions for proper blooming and fruition. The crop requires minimum chilling of 1,600 to 2,000 hours.

Snow is considered as white manure for apple orchards.

Apple is the main fruit crop of the state and is grown in nine out of 12 districts. It accounts for about 40 percent of fruit growing areas here.

More than 200,000 families in Himachal Pradesh are engaged in apple cultivation and 90 percent of them are small and marginal farmers with an average holding of less than 0.6 hectare.

Besides apple, other fruits such as pear, peach, cherry and plum are grown commercially in the state.

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