Anantnag: After almost three years of a lean stretch, the apple growers in south Kashmir are expecting an increase of more than 20 per cent in their final produce.
The south Kashmir region, comprising four districts, had a collective production of 7,71,000 metric tonnes in the year 2016, according to the planning and marketing wing of the horticulture department.
The growers say increase in produce is because of good weather during the pollination period and an increased use in napthalic acid spray by orchardists.
“The weather remained pleasant which ensured better pollination compared to the last few years. That’s the basic reason that we are expecting an increase in the crop this time around,” Shakoor Wani, a fruit grower from Shopian district told Kashmir Reader.
He said even though it snowed and hailstorms were witnessed, “it was before the pollination season and had minimal effect on the bloom”.
Shopian district is among the leading producers of apples across the Kashmir Valley, with a production of 2,37,000 metric tonnes in 2016.
Anantnag produced 1,88,000 metric tonnes, Pulwama, 1,39,000 metric tonnes and Kulgam 2,07,000 metric tonnes, last year.
The lower fruit load on apple trees in the last few years is also one of the reasons for a better crop forecast this year, experts say.
“The bloom has been abundant this year owing to a lower fruit load in the last few years. Which means the low final produce in the previous years will ensure a better crop this time around,” a horticulture department official told Kashmir Reader.
The officer, who did not want to be named, is however apprehensive of a “June Fall”.
June Fall, he explains, is the phenomenon where apples tend to drop from the trees in the month of June.
“The primary reason for June Fall is the use of napthalic acid, which, I am afraid, has been used abundantly this year around,” the official said.
He said the horticulture department allows the use of this acid only in extreme conditions, and its lavish use can damage the crop.
The growers agree to the official’s apprehensions.
The president of the Fruit Growers Association in Shopian district Mir Muhammad Amin told Kashmir Reader that napthalic acid has been used by growers in the past as well.
“And sadly it makes trees break during June and makes the apples fall from the trees,” Mir said.
The good news however is that even orchards where napthalic acid has not been used are showing signs of a good crop.
Chief Horticulture Officer (CHO) Kulgam Roshan Din Dar sounded upbeat while talking to Kashmir Reader.
“We are looking at an expected increase of 15 to 20 per cent compared to last year, and this is good for the department as well as the growers,” Dar said.
He brushed aside the issue of the use of napthalic acid, saying the department does not allow its use unless absolutely necessary.