Kashmir’s apples scorched by the sun, need help from the heavens

Kashmir’s apples scorched by the sun, need help from the heavens

Fruit does not acquire colour, begins to fall in absence of rainfall

Shopian: Though the apple harvesting season started with a good omen of apples selling at good rates, the lack of rainfall this month may affect the quality of apples that remain to be harvested.

Apple farmers in Kashmir are apprehensive that their fruit will be adversely affected by the intense sunlight which rarely has been seen for the last many years. Orchardists said that the dry weather has not only affected the peel but also resulted in massive apple fall.

“Once there is deficiency in moisture, the apple itself starts to fall and the intense sunlight is affecting the peel. This will not only bring down the market rates but also affect the shelf life of the fruit,” said Tabish Ahmad Malik, an apple grower in Shopian.

According to an independent weather forecasting agency, Kashmir Weather, Kashmir has remained the second place in India after Navi Mumbai which has witnessed least rainfall in the monsoon season, which starts from June and ends by September.

Teepu Sultan Bhat, an apple grower, said that even moderate rainfall can end this dry spell and make the apple shine.

“As you know, the light showers in the harvesting season are very much beneficial due to which apple gets its colour. But if rainfall is lacking, then the apple doesn’t acquire colour and remains grey,” he said, adding that if there is no rainfall within a week, then the apple season will conclude a month earlier than expected, besides bringing losses to the industry.

Javid Ahmad Khan, a horticulture expert, said that this dry spell will affect the higher-altitude areas and Kareva lands more than the low-lying areas. “A moderate to heavy rainfall at this stage is very important so that the apple gets heavier in weight, brighter in colour, and stops falling,” he said.

Currently, the Kulu Delicious variety of apple is being harvested and its Grade A 16-kilogram box is being sold at between Rs 900 and Rs 1,050 from the doorstep of growers in Shopian, Pulwama and many other areas of Kashmir.

Experts say that fallen apple is being sold at ten times lower rates than the Grade A box.

Faizan Arif, an independent weather forecaster, told Kashmir Reader that light to moderate rainfall is expected between Friday and Sunday. “A western disturbance is approaching Kashmir from Arabian Sea and can come through Pakistan coast. Then there will be moderate rainfall in the next few days. But if it changes direction, there will be thundershowers across Jammu and Kashmir from Friday afternoon,” he said.

Arif said that Kashmir this year has remained the second-driest region in India as far as monsoon rains are concerned.



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