Sudden rise in temperature worries apple growers in Kashmir

An increase in temperature in the month of March has advanced the apple bloom by two to three weeks

Representative image
Representative image

Gulzar Bhat

An unusual rise in temperature and protracted dry weather conditions have left apple growers a worried lot across Kashmir.

The growers fear a decline in yield and quality of the fruit if the current weather conditions persist for long.

An increase in temperature in the month of March has advanced the apple bloom by two to three weeks.

Mohammad Ashraf Wani, a fruit grower and former presiden,t Fruit Mandi Shopian said that the unprecedented warm weather conditions have spurred the apple bloom by at least 10 to 15 days in Shopian district.

"The early flowering was witnessed in the upper reaches of the district too", Wani said.

According to Wani, if the dry weather conditions persist, it will have a damaging effect on the production.

He said that the farmers in the area have begun feeling distressed due to the unexpected warm weather conditions.

Abdul Rashid, an orchardist from Sopore said that rising temperatures could not only impact the production but also the quality of fruit.

"It may give rise to some pests too", Rashid added.

According to State of the Environment Report (SOER), released by the Directorate of Ecology, Environment and Remote Sensing in Srinagar, recorded a declining trend in total annual rainy days.

Accordingly to the Indian Metrological Department, March was the hottest month since 1901 with the maximum temperature recorded 1.86 degree Celsius above normal.

"The climate change is a reality. We must accept it and make efforts to save our environment", said a Valley-based environmentalist.

The apple industry is the mainstay of the rural economy in the region, providing livelihood to around 3.5 million people. In recent years, hundreds of farmers across the Valley converted large swathes of loss-making paddy field into apple orchards.

A senior horticulture officer told National Herald that at this stage it would be premature to predict the impact of warm weather conditions on the yield.

The Department of Horticulture has already issued an advisory asking the growers to irrigate their fields immediately. According to the advisory, the orchardists must mulch and whitewash the tree trunks.

The apple growers and traders have been grappling with losses for last several years. In 2018, 2019 and 2021, an unseasonal snowfall caused a significant damage to both the apple trees and crop. In 2020, an uncontrolled scab disease attacked around 70 to 80 per cent of the crop in the apple-rich areas of the Valley, incurring losses to the growers.

The recent weather forecast has provided a glimmer of hope to the farmers. According to the meteorologists, intermittent to moderate rains in Jammu and Kashmir are expected from April 20 to 21.

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