SRINAGAR: – Fruit growers in Kashmir valley are a worried lot following unseasonal snowfall and heavy downpour. However a top horticulture department officer says growers need not worry as the inclement weather can not put fruit-bearing trees at risk of diseases.
For growers snow and incessant rainfall has brought back memories of 2014 deluge when floods damaged and washed out apples crop worth Rs 1,000 crore leaving a devastating impact on growers.
We are very much worried about the weather. Till now it has not damaged anything but if the rain continues to fall, it can hit the apple production, said President of Shopian Fruit Growers Association, Muhammad Amin.
Another fruit grower from North Kashmirs Sopore area while echoing the same concern said, Continuous rains can lead to fungal diseases in orchards since moisture remains on leaves and trunks of apple trees. We are having sleepless nights, said Shabir Ahmad from Sopore
However, Director Horticulture Kashmir, Rafiq Ahmad Hakim appealed fruit growers not to worry. He told Kashmir Observer that, The weather is going to improve from hopefully and there is no need to panic, the good thing is that this is not the blooming period of apple and walnut trees.
He advised people to follow their advisories that the trees should not be waterlogged and those people who have planted new trees should continuously clear the snow from them and they should have a proper support and the important thing is the spray schedule which we have given should be avoided till weather turns good otherwise the rain can washout the spray, he said.
He further added there is no information of any damage to apple trees from any district of the valley.
Dr. Shafiq Ahmad Hakeem Assistant Professor at SKUAST-K, said If the temperature drops in the coming days it can be dangerous for the apple and walnut trees, However, he said situation is not so critical this time if the weather improves there is no need to worry and people should use Mancozeb spray to control fungicide but only once the temperature rises, he said.
He further added that the trees are generally this time in pink bud stage and can tolerate the cold weather for 2- 3 days after that they can abort and this can be huge setback for apple growers, he said.
Kashmir’s apple and walnut varieties are considered best in the world. The apple production in the Valley is around 15 to 17 lakh metric tonnes and walnut production is 25- metric tonnes annually, according to Director
Kashmirs fruit season starts in May when first crop of cherry is harvested. It is followed by pears and other fruits which hit the market in the following months. Apple is the last crop that hits the market in autumn.
Horticulture is the mainstay of the economy in Kashmir with lakhs of people associated with this sector.
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