Shopian: The much awaited rains on Thursday brought cheers to the apple growers across south Kashmir.
The rains, which had been lashing the south Kashmir since Wednesday evening brought respite to the thousands of apple growers in the area.
"We heaved a sigh of relief. Rains are crucial for both the production and quality of the fruit", said Mohammad Ashraf Wani, a fruit grower and former president Fruit Mandi Shopian.
According to Wani, the farmers are looking at a bumper crop this year in case the weather does not turn hostile.
The dry spell and an unusual rise in temperature over the last month had left the farmers a worried lot.
The rise in temperature had advanced the flowering stage at least by two weeks, causing much distress among the growers.
" If the warm weather conditions had persisted, they would have affected both the yield and quality of the fruit", said Wani.
Abdul Rashid, an apple grower from Kulgam said that since the canal irrigation is not possible everywhere, the rains play an instrumental role.
"Most of the growers, particularly in the upper reaches rely on the precipitation", he added.
Given the dry weather conditions, the Department of Horticulture on April 7 had issued an advisory, asking the farmers to irrigate their farms immediately.
The apple industry is the mainstay of rural economy in the region, providing livelihood to around 3.5 million people.
However, the apple growers and traders suffered losses over the past several years.
In 2018, 2019 and 2021, an unseasonal snowfall caused a huge damage to both the apple trees and unharvested crop. In 2020, an uncontrolled scab disease attacked around 70 to 80 percent of the crop in the apple rich districts of Shopian and Pulwama, incurring heavy losses to the growers.