Letter To Editor | Delayed Leaf Fall in Apple Orchards

FROM the past few years, apple growers in the valley of Kashmir are witnessing a delayed leaf fall in apple orchards, which certainly is hampering the post-harvest work like orchard sanitation and pruning.

Even on the advice of experts, the growers are using different chemical sprays for early and abrupt defoliating of the leaves like urea spray. .The growers are confused as in the past decades apple leaves would turn yellow abruptly and fall down in weeks only. However, now, it takes months. the problem may certainly be in the physiology/biochemistry dealing with the leaf fall.

The physiology/biochemistry associated with the leaf fall is known as leaf abscission and the process is natural and occurs when the apple trees are preparing themselves for the winter. As the winter sets in the orchards, the apple tree starts taking nutrients back from the leaves and with the same time the abscission layer is formed around the petiole/stalk of the leaf, which further on increases with time and the leaves turn yellow and fall down. From the past few years, abrupt climate/weather changes in the valley is creating the problem of delayed leaf fall (Marcescent fall). This happens when the temperature changes abruptly from higher to lower which results in death of apple leaves without forming an abscission layer around the petiole, due to which leaves turn brown and remain intact there for long till the natural/ artificial mechanical methods bring them down.

This abrupt weather change is certainly leading to delayed leaf fall. So, growers in the valley must focus on their work in post-harvest management and finish as soon as possible.

Dr Willayat Bashir (Ph.D)

Electrobiochemist/Horticulturist 

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