Himachal apples hit markets

July 10th, 2011 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, July 10 (IANS) Famous for its apples, Himachal Pradesh has started getting the crop’s early varieties. Traders from across the country have been camping in the state’s wholesale markets to procure the fruit, trade representatives said here Sunday.

“The harvesting of apples has begun in some pockets of Shimla, Kullu and Mandi districts. The demand is of course high as the new crop attracts good buyers,” Horticulture Director Gurdev Singh told IANS.

Early varieties like Red Gold, Red June and Tydeman’s Early Worcester have reached the markets. Singh said the apples have reached Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat and Maharashtra markets.

Said Gian Singh Chandel, chairman of the Dhalli apple market committee near here: “In the past few days, the arrival of apples has picked up.”

“On an average, 2,000 to 2,500 boxes (of 20 kg each) are reaching here daily. Most of the crop is coming from upper Shimla areas,” he added.

Chandel said a box of Tydeman’s Early Worcester, though inferior in quality, is getting Rs.500-800.

The apples are selling Rs.60-80 a kg in the retail markets of Chandigarh and Delhi.

Horticulture experts said the shelf life of early varieties of apple is less as compared to the superior ones. The early varieties require 95 to 120 days to mature after full bloom of the crop, whereas normal ones take 135 to 180 days to mature.

Said Rohit Sood, an apple farmer from upper Shimla: “The harvesting of some early varieties has started. But the normal crop still requires more than a month to harvest.”

Usman Shaikh, a Pune-based trader, said: “We are daily procuring 200 to 300 boxes from Dhalli against the requirement of 500.”

“The prices that had gone up to Rs.1,000 a box initially have crashed. Now a box is getting around Rs.600,” he added.

According to official estimates, this year’s apple production would be around 22.5 million boxes - about 50 percent less than last year’s bumper production of 44.5 million boxes.

But experts believe this year’s fruit would be more crisp, crunchy and juicy as there is sufficient moisture in the soil that would help the plant get sufficient nutrients.

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