Shopian: Premature harvesting and a bumper crop in Himachal Pradesh are said to be the reasons responsible for the huge decline of rates of high-density Kashmir apple in the country’s markets. If the bumper crop in Himachal is indeed the reason that brought down the rates, then in the long run Kashmiris will not want to convert too much of their traditional horticulture land to cultivate newly introduced high-density apple varieties as they would be harvested along with the Himachal apple.
According to fruit growers, the high-density varieties like Jeromine and King Roat saw good rates at the beginning of season but once more varieties of high-density started to be harvested, the rates come down drastically. They say that much of the produce even remained unsold in local Mandis, which forced the traders to transport it to outside markets.
Izhan Javid, chief executive officer of one of the leading apple companies in the valley, told Kashmir Reader that people conducted premature harvesting of the high-density varieties which led to the rate decline.
“Besides premature harvesting, Himachal Pradesh this year is witnessing a bumper crop and there is not much demand of apple in general,” he said.
Kashmir has so far converted about 8,000 kanals of traditional horticulture land to high-density cultivation in the past decade. Most of the conversion was done under schemes in which government bore half the expenses of the plantation.
A senior horticulture expert, wishing not to be named, told Kashmir Reader that it is not yet so alarming a situation that people will stop planting high-density apple varieties, but one should be ready for the prospect that rates will come down further once more land is brought under high-density plantation.
“High-density plantation is giving more time to growers to harvest their produce and there are certain varieties which are harvested parallel with traditional varieties. The distinction of taste and shelf life of traditional varieties will keep them at top, above any other variety grown globally,” he said.
Abdul Mateen, an orchardist from Shopian, told Kashmir Reader that he recently sent 200 boxes of high-density apples to a local mandi but his boxes remained unsold for two days, after which he sent them to Delhi where they were sold at half the rates that he received last year for the same variety.
“For high-density apple we can’t wait for too long for the rates to rise. It has less shelf life compared to traditional varieties,” he said.