Snow forecast compels orchardists to speed up apple harvest
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Snow forecast compels orchardists to speed up apple harvest

Baramulla, Oct 22: Panic-stricken orchardists in Kashmir are in hurry to harvest their apple crops as the meteorological department has forecasted snow from October 23 to 25.

The Meteorological Department (MeT) on Tuesday predicted a wet spell of ‘higher intensity’ across Kashmir between October 23 and 25 with heavy rains and snowfall forecast for Saturday.

Following the meteorological department advisory, the Horticulture department Kashmir also has issued an advisory to apple growers asking them to harvest apple crop as early as possible.

Abdul Rashid Mir, an apple grower of Rafiabad Sopore, started harvesting apple crops soon after the meteorological department issued an advisory on Tuesday.

“I have engaged scores of labourers in my orchards for the harvesting of crops. I don’t want to take any chance in wake of adverse weather forecast advisory,” said Rashid, adding that he has completed 80 percent of apple harvesting till Friday evening.

Mir believes that an improved weather forecast technology can save growers from incurring huge losses.

“Few years back, sudden snowfall left our orchards devastated. Scores of apple trees fell under the load of heavy snow and inflicted huge losses to the growers. However, this early advisory has provided us time to harvest apple crop in time,” added Mir.

Though a timely weather forecast is believed to give some respite for the growers, apple growers are worried that if heavy snowfall is experienced, it will prove disastrous for the apple orchards.

President fruit growers association, Fruit Mandi Sopore, Fayaz Ahmad Malik said that the most important apple varieties, Delicious and American, have not been harvested yet.

He said 30 percent of apples are yet to be harvested and it is impossible to harvest the complete apple crop within three days.

“If an apple grower will engage double the labourers for the harvesting of crop, still it is not possible to harvest 30 percent of the crop at this juncture,” he said.

The other factor which worries the apple growers is that if snowfall is heavy it will destroy the apple trees completely as without pruning, the apple tree can not withstand the load of snow with the result, apple tree will be damaged badly.

“If an apple grower succeeds in harvesting the crop, he will not be able to save the tree from damage unless pruning is carried out. We hope the snowfall will be light this time, otherwise it will be a huge loss to growers,” said Malik.

Kashmir produces over 75 percent of apples in the entire country. Over 50 lakh people from 12 lakh families are directly or indirectly involved in the apple trade. The horticulture sector is considered as the backbone of the economy of Jammu and Kashmir.

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