Premature apple drop creates panic among fruit growers in south Kashmir

Man packing apples in cardboard boxes. [Representational Image]
Man packing apples in cardboard boxes. [Representational Image]File/GK

Shopian: The premature dropping of apples from the trees has left thousands of farmers distraught across south Kashmir. According to the farmers, the fruit has begun falling prematurely since mid-June.

The farmers seem to be clueless about this pre-harvest fall.

“We don’t know the actual reason behind the sudden fall of apples”, said Peer Shabir, an apple grower and trader from Shopian.

Shabir said that every morning orchardists could see dozens of fallen apples strewn under the tree trunks in their orchards.

Another farmer from Kulgam told Greater Kashmir that the unusual fall of the fruit had begun gnawing at the apple growers. “It is a big cause of concern for both the growers and traders of the Valley “, he said.

The apple growers from Anantnag and Pulwama districts also complained about the unusual apples drop.

The farmers said that they had been running into losses for more than the last three years.

The apple farmers in the district grappled with heavy losses over the past few years. The unseasonal snowfalls, COVID-induced lockdowns and uncontrollable scabs incurred losses to the growers during the last three years.

Muhammad Iqbal, an apple grower from Pulwama alleged that they had hardly been provided with any guidance by the authorities.

Former president Fruit Mandi Shopian and orchardist Muhamamd Asharaf Wani said that using Plant Growth Regulators ( PGRs) at the flowering stage could be a possible cause behind the premature fruit fall.

Experts say that some fruit drop around this season is normal but it should not exceed more than a few apples.

“We call it June fall. During this season trees shed some apples but this year the fall is comparatively more”, said a horticulture official, who wished not to be named.

He also said that the use of hormonal sprays might have spurred the apple drop.

Dr Mumtaz Ahamd Ganie, Scientist Soil Sciences SKUAST Kashmir said that the improper irrigation schedule and nutrient management, and subsequent stress on apple orchards due to heavy rains followed by a sudden rise in temperature resulted in the drop of fruit.

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