Heavy rains damage Himachal apple orchards

Shimla, Sept.22: Rains and heavy winds that lashed Himachal
Pradesh in the last few days have severely damaged apple orchards
in the State.

Apple growers, who were counting on a good crop, have very little
left for marketing.

In some of the orchards more than 50 per cent of the crop has
been damaged, as the fruit has got black spots, making them
unsuitable for marketing.

Harish Thakur, an apple grower,says sudden rains had crashed
their hopes of a bumper crop. They have lsot 70 per cent of their
crop.”The 20 percent of the apples left on the trees is not good
for marketing as it does not have good red colour. We are not
able to pay to the labourers. All the farmers are facing severe
losses,” said Thakur Ajit Singh, a producer.

Popularly known as the “Apple Bowl of India,” Himachal Pradesh is
the largest producer of apples in the country. It is the mainstay
of the local economy, with hundreds of growers earning their
livelihood from the orchards, continuing rains have also hit the
apple belt of Kinnaur, Kullu Chamba and Mandi.

Meanwhile, in August, the apple crop in Himachal Pradesh was
severely affected by a disease called Apple Core Rot (ACR) . The
disease spread because farmers were not using fertilizers because
of the increase in their cost due to withdrawal of Government

The worst-affected were the orchards that produced four popular
varieties–Red Delicious, Rich-a-Red, Red June and Tydeman’s
Early, all of which grow above 1800 meters in the State. The
disease destroyed more than 10 per cent of the apple plantations
in the State.

First spotted in Mandi, in the heart of the Karsog belt, ACR had
also been reported in adjoining areas of Kullu and Shimla,
attacking the crop and weakening roots. This mysterious fungal
disease has no external manifestation but causes apples to rot
and finally drop off the trees.

Himachal Pradesh alone accounts for over 120 billion rupees (2.76
billion dollars) worth apple produce.

Spread across nine districts of the State, grown on a land area
of 96 000 hectares, the apple industry provides employment to
almost 800, 000 people.

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