Shopian: Fresh rains for the last two days have washed away hopes of a bumper cherry crop in southern Kashmir.
Orchadists from Shopian told Kashmir Reader that they were expecting a bumper crop this year but continuous rains took a heavy toll.
“This year I had expected to harvest 1500 boxes of cherry but when I visited my orchard today I saw rains have destroyed almost 40 percent of crop, and it was still raining,” Shakir Mohi-ud-Din, an orchardist from Reshnagri said.
Horticulture experts say cherries are very sensitive to rains. Continuous rain puts small cracks on the fruit which rots once the sun comes out again.
The ‘Mishri’ variety of cherry, which commands high market rates, gets most affected with rains.
Orchardists had introduced varieties like Italy, Stella, Lippon and Vain, which according to them were less prone to the rains.
Parvaiz Ahmad Bhat, an orchardist from Pargochi village said the prices of cherry had significantly improved in the last three years but declined slightly this year.
“Last year I sold cherry at Rs 250 per box in Subzi Mundi Azadpur Delhi. This year there was a slight decline but we hoped a bumper crop. The continuous rains have ruined the crop,” said Farooq Ahmad.
A group of orchardists from Losedenow said they had planted more trees in the last three years their orchards as they had chopped thousands of trees from 1998 to 2005 because of decline in demand and inclement weather.
“I planted 60 new trees last year as there was a handsome demand of cherries in the market,” an orchardist from Saidpora Shopian said.
Chief Horticulture Officer Pulwama said that wet season causes heavy damage to cherry.
“It is not alarming yet, but if rain continues it will take heavy toll on the crop,” he said.
Wet weather also leads to insect growth in cherries, he said.
He added that there was no new experiment regarding the new varieties.
“Italy, Lippon, Stella were old introduced varieties there is nothing new in those,” he said.