Increased rainfall in spring to delay horticulture crop

SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley is likely to witness a marginal delay in the harvest of its fruit crop due to increased rainfall in spring even as the experts are going to keep a keen eye on the developments in weather in the months to follow.
The Valley received more rains and snow this year. Quite unusually, a snow storm hit the region in the middle of March, which is otherwise the first month of spring in this part of the world. And afterwards, the rainfall and cold maintained a tight grip over the Valley until recently.
While the abnormal weather has caused a delay in the ripening of fruits that are usually ready at this time of the year, other fruits too are expected to face a marginal delay.
“Normally, strawberry is in markets by first week of May, but this year the crop was ready in the third week of the month. Likewise, other horticulture crops are also going to face a delay of 20 to 25 days,” Manzoor Ahmad, Assistant Director, Horticulture Department, told Kashmir Reader.
However, the delay may eventually prove fruitful for the horticulture industry.
“Due to the delay, the harvesting period of the crops will have cooler nights, which will consequently lead to increased shelf life of the harvested crops,” Ahmad said.
The standing crop of apple—one of the most prized horticulture products of the Valley—is already facing an attack of scab and mineral deficiency, though not to the uncontrollable extent. The farmers, Ahmad said, have been made to do more sprays of pesticide on the crops to avoid any damage.
“Scan is there in the orchards, but thankfully not to an alarming level. It is under control. Besides, the crops are facing calcium deficiency caused by the increased wetness in the previous months. We are trying to overcome that also,” Ahmad said.
“Usually, we tell farmers to do three sprays and ask them to do further sprays if need be. But this year we have asked them to four to five sprays already while they will have to closely monitor development in the orchards in the coming months,” he added.
The overall damage to the crops due to bad weather may, however, not be assessed at this time, according to the experts.
“It is too early to say if the horticulture crops will face any damage. There is partial damage to crops already, and if we continue to get more alternate dry and wet spells, the crops will be damaged,” Zahoor Dar, a senior professor at SK University of Agriculture Science and Technology, told Kashmir Reader.