Solan, Jan 8 : The fresh spells of moderate to heavy snowfall followed by widespread rains in tropical and subtropical zones has brightened the prospects of bumper apple crop in this hilly state, this year.
This would further help in enhancing the chances of better Rabi crop production, especially in rain fed areas in the state. The prevailing weather conditions in apple growing belts besides moderating the diurnal temperatures had helped in meeting the needed chilling requirements in deciduous fruit orchards thereby increasing the hope of a better apple crop in the state. Besides upper parts of Himachal, Solan and its adjoining hills, parts of Sirmour, Barog , Chail, Kandaghat and Kasauli also witnessed season’s first snowfall on Wednesday thereby bringing the cheers on the face of farming community of the region.
And, if the needed temperature, rainfall and average relative humidity remained favourable till the time of flowering and fruit setting, the apple production was expected to break the previous year’s records, this year. The state had produced around seven lakh tones of apple, last year. The adequate snowfall and required moisture status in the soil coupled with the needed chilling requirement and low temperature conditions in lower and upper belts would certainly act as a cushion to apple and Rabi crops like wheat, barley, gram, mustered, potato, garlic and others in lower and mid hills zones. So far, over 90 centimetre snowfall had been recorded in apple growing regions and temperature also remained below freezing point for most of the period.
It touched as low as minus 3 degree Celsius during the past two months. Till date, 1000 chilling hours (temperature below 7 degree Celsius) had already been met out in the month of January and December, considered most favourable for better apple crop. 'Since snowfall has been received intermittently, it will help in providing adequate moisture level in soil for longer duration which is required for better fruit production,' said Dr Parvinder Kaushal, Vice-Chancellor of Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry Nauni. Notably, Apple occupies about half of the total area under fruit production in Himachal and also contributed nearly 90 per cent to total fruit production. Apple was being grown over one lakh hectare of land in Shimla, Mandi, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, Chamba and parts of Solan and Sirmour districts of the state, during the past few decades, apple cultivation had played a major role in transforming the socio-economic conditions of the growers.
'The rains and snowfall besides helping in meeting out chilling requirements in deciduous fruits growing areas has also hopefully decreased the chances of erratic flowering in orchards', said Kaushal. He said that snow, rains and decrease in diurnal temperature besides lessening the chances of insect and pest attacks would help stop premature blooming in deciduous fruit orchards and also fulfil the requirement of relative humidity factor and natural irrigation system.
General secretary of Himachal Kisan Sangthan O P Panwar said widespread rain has come as a boon to the farming community of rain fed areas as it has helped in meeting the needed soil moisture requirement for the various Rabi crops in the state. Since, almost 80 percent agricultural operations had already been carried out in rain fed areas, the repeated rain has further enhanced the prospects of better yield of wheat, gram, barley , mustered and various other crops. (UNI)