SHOPIAN: The recent snowfall brought cheer to orchardists in southern Kashmir, who were happy at the break in dry spell.
Around 11 inches of snowfall was recorded in lower areas of Shopian while more than three feet was recorded in upper areas. Pulwama received around six inches of snow in lower areas while as about two to three feet of snow was recorded in higher reaches.
Last year southern Kashmir witnessed a bumper apple crop but the dry spell in autumn took a bite damaging the crunch of the fruit due to intense rise in temperature.
Experts from horticulture department told Kashmir Reader that a snowless winter adversely affects the quality and quantity of horticulture products. They said that snow in right time maintains the water balance in the orchards.
Experts advise orchardists to remain vigilant about two things during the snowfall; one, the orchardists who have not done the branch trashing must bring down snow from tree branches, second keep eye on the rats and porcupines attacking the roots because of scarcity of food around.
Parvaiz Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Shopian said that they were waiting for snow more eagerly “than the Eid crescent”.
“We are wholly and solely dependent on horticulture and adequate snowfall in winter is must for our orchards,” he said while calling snowfall a blessing of Allah.
Shakir Mohidun, a resident of Pulwama also expressed happiness over the snowfall.
“Allah can give fruits without snowfall but he has set a law which works according to His will,’ he said.
Senior scientist from Sheri Kashmir Agricultural University of Science and Technology (SKAUST), Dr Tariq Rasool told Kashmir Reader that this snowfall was more than a blessing in general and must for smooth system of horticulture.
“Adequate snowfall maintains the water cycle and hence supports best quality and quantity of fruits. It indirectly helps in decomposition of leaves which also contains fungus,” he said.
He added that having less snow affects the horticulture sector like the crunch of the fruits is affected and sun burns are caused in fruits.
Another horticulture expert, Gulzar Ahmad said, “No snow in winter makes rainy spring, which not only damages the pollens but the temperature also goes down which gives injuries to the flowers grains and finally adversely affects the quantity of fruits”.
He said that last year there was sufficient snowfall in winters which brought in a sunny spring and hence a bumper crop in south Kashmir. He said sunny spring also keeps diseases at bay.
In Pulwama around 25000 hectares of land is under orchards and more than 70 percent of population is dependent on horticulture, while as in Shopian more than 90 percent of population is directly dependent on horticulture sector.
Experts added that adequate snowfall also has good impact on paddy which needs adequate water supply during seed sowing and nursery planting season.