SHOPIAN: The Southern Kashmir is looking ahead at a moderate apple crop this year, although inclement weather may still bring some diseases. Orchardists have been advised to remain vigilant and in contact with Horticulture experts and officials.
Most of the areas in southern Kashmir are witnessing a moderate apple crop. However, those who sprayed growth regulators during flowering season are once again witnessing a bumper crop, while those who didn’t are witnessing huge decline in crop density.
According to experts, many of the growth nutrients sprayed by orchardists were not recommended by SKAUST Kashmir. This has raised questions over why SKAUST is not approving the nutrients when people have seen better results with their use. An orchardist from Pinjora area told Kashmir Reader that he has been spraying growth regulators for six years now and has witnessed the best results through his bumper crops. “As such, none of the government officials related to the Horticulture Department are recommending these growth regulators, but we have seen good results by using them,” he said.
Orchardists said that generally those who don’t use the growth regulators have found a low crop this year as compared to 2018.
“Last year, there was good crop all over, both those who sprayed the nutrients and who didn’t harvest a bumper crop. But this year the orchardists have seen a decline in crop density,” Bashir Ahmad, a pesticide seller, said.
An expert from the Horticulture Department said that people should remain vigilant to save their crop from diseases.
“During inclement weather, the chances of diseases rise, and orchardists should take advice from experts of SKAUST and local KVKs,” he said adding that people must act on the advice and go for sprays after regular intervals.
Last year, despite a bumper crop and low disease-rates, the apple market saw a huge crush. The reasons, according to experts, were many, like an imbalance in demand and supply, closure of highway and import of apple from Iran which, according to them, is not allowed in India but is being done through dumping.
Showkat Ahmad Reshi, an orchardist from Nagbal area of Shopian, said that this year there is a moderate apple crop.
“We pray that there should not be interval of diseases. This much of crop would fetch us good returns if market and weather remain pleasant, by the grace of Allah,” he said.
Another orchardist, Parvaiz Ahmad Sofi of Bolsu, Kulgam, said that moderate, low and bumper crop are the norm of farming, but what he wants is that there should be a good market.
“As you know, our apple is facing huge challenges in markets due to unknown reasons. The government must take steps to export the Kashmiri apple so that orchardists would get good returns,” he said.
Over 70 percent of the southern Kashmir population is directly dependent on the horticulture sector, particularly apples, and large numbers of people in the region have taken loans under the Kisan Credit Card from banks and financial institutions.
Over the years, many of the orchardists have failed to return their debits, resulting in more losses to them.
Another horticulture expert said that people should spray Contact fungicides before the rains and Systemic Fungicides after the rains. He said that orchardists should not increase or decrease the schedule given by the Horticulture Department because by doing so the fungicide either rendered ineffective or would damage the crop by over-dosage.