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Apple growers worried over less production, small fruit size this year

 Apple growers worried over less production, small fruit size this year

Say there was good demand but inclement weather, diseases hit the industry

Jahangeer Ganaie

Srinagar, Sep 02 (KNO): The inclement weather in spring months coupled with outbreak diseases have badly affected the apple production in Kashmir, the distressed growers said.

The apple growers from various areas of the valley told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that those associated with traditional Kulu and other delicious varieties are “very much” distressed as they have “very little” production. The size of the fruit is also small which is worrying, they added.

Mohammad Yousuf, an apple grower from Shopian, told KNO that they had around 1,000 boxes of apples last year and this year, it would hardly be around 400 to 500. Despite having less production, the size of apples is also small, he said.

Usually, whenever there are fewer fruits on the tree, its size remains big but this year, the situation is different as there is less production as well as small size, Yousuf lamented.

Another grower Mohammad Abbas said that during the spring season, the initial stage of apples, there were incessant rains and plants didn't get the required sunlight for photosynthesis. This resulted in less production and there was premature fruit, he said.

Later, the untimely rains in July led to the outbreak of the scab disease, which affected the quality of apples further, Abbas said. However, the hot climate in the last two months has helped to a great extent in the growth of apples, he added.

The growers said the trees were supplied with all nutritional supplements and even some plant growth regulators (PGRs) but that didn’t yield the desired results. A good percentage of fruit on many trees didn’t reach full size which is worrisome, they added.

Chairman of the Kashmir Valley Fruit Growers Cum Dealers Union, Bashir Ahmad Basheer told KNO that though there is a good demand for apples, the production is less.

He said that due to fluctuations in weather, the fruit set, production, quality and size of the fruit have been affected. “This year as of now, the government has ensured hassle-free movement of apple-laden trucks; but the only issue is less production along with less quality fruit,” he said.

Bashir said those having quality fruit this year will earn handsome amounts as its demand is good.

Officials in the horticulture department acknowledged that the inclement weather and scab outbreak significantly affected the production and quality of apples. They said they would come to know about the exact decline of the crop after the completion of the harvesting process.

Pertinently, Kashmir on average produces over 20 lakh metric tonnes of apples every year, a figure that in some years touches 25 lakh metric tonnes.

The 2017 economic survey in J&K said that half of Kashmir’s population is directly or indirectly dependent on the apple industry and over 3.5 lakh hectares are under apple cultivation.

Horticulture is an essential contributor to SGDP with a share of about 9.5 percent. Besides, 8.50 crore man-days are generated through horticulture in J&K every year—(KNO)

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