Less snow to take bite out of Shopian apples

Raashid Hassan

SHOPIAN: Srinagar: Apple growers in this south Kashmir district fear losses to their prospective produce this year on account of the scant snowfall so far.
In this district famous for the quality of apples, 2, 19, 395 metric tons of apples were produced during 2013-14 on 22,914 hectares of the horticulture land.
The farmers who spoke to Kashmir Reader said their economy depends on the apple production, which in turn depends on rain and snow during the winters. Ghulam Hassan, a farmer, said the early and adequate snowfall improves health of the plants and also reduces possibilities of fungal infections.
“We get more produce with less effort and minimum investment on fungicides when it snows on time. But this year the situation looks grim,” he said.
Many farmers have burrowed loans from the banks and other financial institutes.
“Less and poor quality of fruits will not fetch us better returns. We are just praying for more snowfall in the weeks to come,” said a grower, Gulzar Ahmad.
Nazir Ahmad, a resident of Pinjora here, said the saplings planted in the nurseries last year too are susceptible to damage due to the prevailing “doughty-like situation”.
“In the orchards, there are apprehensions of early flowering while the dry soil is allowing rodents to spread infections among the trees,” he said. “December and January are critical months for the production of apple. We are only praying for the conditions to improve.”
The previous winter, the farmers said, heavy snowfall has caused damage to the trees.
The Chief Horticulture Officer concerned Farooq Ahmad Mirza told Kashmir Reader confirmed that the dry weather could have an adverse effect on apple production.
“The dry spell can lead to early sprouting. After another cold spell, the blooms could get sterilized and lead to low production,” he said.