Record cherry pick expected from Himachal

April 25th, 2010 - 1:43 pm ICT by IANS  

By Vishal Gulati
Shimla, April 25 (IANS) Here’s some sweet and juicy news - cherry growers in Himachal Pradesh are expecting a bumper crop of the fruit this season owing to favourable weather. Total production is set to touch a record 900 tonnes.

“The state is heading towards a bumper cherry crop this year with favourable weather during the last winter and this summer,” horticulture department research officer Daulat Ram told IANS.

“Field reports indicate that the total production would be around 900 tonnes, an all-time high,” he said.

The state produced 419 tonnes of cherry last fiscal. The output in 2007-08 was 698 tonnes.

“This time the production is not only wonderful but the colour of the fruit is also better. Even the fruit is quite fleshy,” said Him Kiran Manta, a grower near Kullu town.

The higher reaches of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba, Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti are ideal for the cultivation of cherry. At least 10,000 small farmers in the state have grown cherries on 405 hectares as an alternative crop.

Even apple growers are opting for cherry cultivation as the fruit requires less chilling hours, said S.P. Bhardwaj, former joint director of the Y.S. Parmar University in Solan.

“While the apple crop requires 1,200 to 1,600 hours of chilling with the temperature at seven degrees Celsius or less before flowering (March-April) begins, the cherry plant requires less than 700 chilling hours. Even price wise, cherries are more remunerative than apples,” said Bhardwaj.

Cherry harvesting will continue till July 15. The first crop from upper Shimla areas has just hit the market.

“It is fetching a price of Rs.60 to Rs.80 per kg in the wholesale market these days. As the crop from other districts start arriving, its price would come down drastically,” said I.D. Gupta, deputy director in the horticulture department.

The economy of Himachal Pradesh is dependent on horticulture, apart from hydroelectric power and tourism. Besides cherry, apple, kiwi, strawberry, pears, peaches, apricots, almonds and plums are the major commercial crops of the state.

The fruit industry is worth about Rs.2,000 crore annually.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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