Shopian: The prevailing dry spell in Kashmir coupled with piercing sunshine is likely to take a heavy toll on apple production and its marketing in the south Kashmir districts. The peculiar climatic condition has already expedited harvesting ahead of its schedule.
Orchardists say that the southern districts of Kashmir are bracing with an imminent crisis due to the intense heat and dry weather. “The severe heat and arid conditions have dried up the tree barks and the fruit,” Abdul Rehman Bhat, a farmer from Turkwangam village in Shopian said. He added that despite the bumper crop they have apprehensions of heavy losses.
According to the horticulture experts the apples need a moderate temperature during maturing and harvesting season but this year the intense heat and dry spell is casting shadow on the crop.
Worse, lack of sufficient irrigation increased the risk. “Dry spell has also resulted into drying up streams and canals due to which we were not able to irrigate our orchards or fields,” Abdul Gani Hurra, an orchardist from Rajpora area of district Pulwama said.
Manzoor Ahmad Malik, a fruit businessman from Shopian told Kashmir Reader that intense heat has left the Delicious variety weak in colour and shine which has downgraded the apple market all around the India. “We are left with apples which have less colour and shine and moderate juice content,” he said.
Pertinently the south Kashmir districts have already witnessed huge loss in past five years due to less yield and enormous breakout of diseases like scab, red mite and San Jos Scale.
The disturbed conditions in the weather has mostly put its severe effects on the ‘Delicious’ variety of apple as all the yield of this variety is yet to be harvested. The other varieties of apple like ‘Kolu Delicious’ being a non-local breed from Himachal Pradesh remained almost unaffected by this dry spell as most of this breed gets ready for harvesting a month before the delicious variety.
“We cannot afford to give the orchardists more rates because of the diminishing demand in Indian markets for the sub-standard varieties,” Mukesh Bhatia, a trader from Maharashtra said.