Shopian: Though “growth regulators” at the flowering stage of fruit trees are not recommended by SKAUST university or by the horticulture department, thousands of growers in Kashmir use these chemical sprays during flowering season.
Crores of rupees have been spent on these sprays by growers in the past five to eight years. Some growers call these growth regulators as wastage of money but the majority say they result in better fruit set.
A horticulture expert said that in adverse weather conditions, these regulators can be used as artificial pollination.
Usually, two growth regulators are mixed together by orchardists while a few are sprayed alone. There are more than a dozen such brands available in the market though none of them has been recommended either by the directorate of horticulture or by SKUAST (Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology).
Aijaz Ahmad Ganie, an orchardist in Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that the fruit set maintained by the growth regulators are like ‘Lodi Dastar’. Ganaie said that the regulators maintain the fruit set till June but all the fruits suddenly fall in the same month, thus wasting efforts and money of the orchardist.
“Not only wastage of money but it also affects the next year’s production as when the fruit stands there till June, it doesn’t allow new fruit buds to grow,” he said.
On the other hand, Shabir Ahmad Bhat, another grower from the same village, said he has seen the best results of using growth regulators in the last three years.” I have seen a rise in production after spraying growth regulators. The production rose from 1500 to 2500 (quintals) during these three years,” he said
Rauf Ahmad Malik, assistant professor of fruit sciences at SKUAST, said that these growth regulators are not recommended by SKAUST but people spray them on their own. “SKUAST has recommended only boron spray at the pink bud stage, which is a micro nutrient, not a growth regulator. Similarly, there are some other micro nutrients recommended at pea bud stage of fruit and other stages but no such growth regulators or micro nutrients are recommended at full bloom stage,” he said.
According to scientists, growth regulators help in parthenocarpy, which is the natural or artificially induced production of fruit without fertilisation of ovules. This process in other terms is also called asexual reproduction.
Abid Hussain, another SKUAST scientist, told Kashmir Reader that in some western countries where adverse weather occurs during flowering season, regulators are recommended as they help in artificially induced production of fruit. “Since SKUAST has not recommended it, I also can’t recommend it, but I can say that growth regulators induce parthenocarpy and are being used in bad weather and in absence of pollinators and pollinisers,” he said.
Experts say that though fruit growers in Kashmir are using these growth regulators for the eight years but there neither is any recommendation to use them nor any research to know whether it should or should not be used by the growers.
Shahid Ahmad Thoker, a fruit grower in Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that the SKUAST and the government should break their silence on the use of growth regulators in Kashmir, or they will be responsible if any adversity occurs in the fruit sector, such as the chemicals causing a rise in infections like scab.