A good spell of snow this winter, resulting in bumper production of stone fruits like plum, apricots, cherry and peaches has given a major reason to cheer to fruit growers and orchard owners of Kashmir Valley.

Sharing tentative figures, officials said there has been an overall increase of 15-20 percent, with growers claiming that fruit production doubled as comparison to last year.

“God has been very kind to us this year. My production has increased by 40-50 percent. I have reaped 15,000 boxes of plum as compared to 8,000 last year,” said Mohammad Ashraf Mir, who owns a plum and apple farm on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Mir said the bumper production is due to ample snowfall this winter which delayed the blooming of the plum, giving the crop minimum chilling hours to help absorb nutrients and prevent shedding of leaves besides killing the pest. The snow also helped the manure compost to set well.

“The flowering of the trees got delayed due to cold temperatures. As the trees bloomed, the temperature had already improved moderately which didn’t harm the budding flowers, leading to good production,” he said.

Farmers pick fresh plums from a tree in an orchard, on the outskirts of Srinagar, on Thursday, July 18, 2019. ( Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo )

Another grower Abdul Rashid said though the size of the fruit has marginally reduced this year, the production was not compromised and has been in surplus.

“When there is heavy production, the size of plum decreases. But that does not affect our returns,” Rashid said. Majority of the plums grown in the Valley are exported to other parts of the state, particularly to markets in Delhi.

“We are getting around Rs 200-250 per box for big sized plums while the rate is Rs 150-200 for small sized fruit,” he said.

Besides plum, other stone fruits like apricot have also yielded good output. “This year, we have a good crop (apricot) compared to last three years. We are not only making good sale here in the state but have also sent the fruit to other parts of the country,” said Nazir Ahmad Khan of north Kashmir’s Kupwara who owns an apricot orchard.

A farmer putting plums in a boxes for export in an orchard, on the outskirts of Srinagar, on Thursday, July 18, 2019. Kashmir is witnessing a bumper production of plum this year owing to good snowfall in the winter. ( Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo )

In Kashmir, apricots are grown on 2,880 hectares, cherry on 2,713 hectares, plum on 1,427 hectares and peach on 714 hectares of land.

According to official figures, the Valley witnessed 16,156 metric tonne (MT) of apricots (with 12,686 MT in Ladakh alone), 11,789 MT of cherries, 7,710 MT of plums and 2,714 MT of peaches in the year 2018-19.

Deputy director (central), horticulture, Mohammad Yousuf Dar said his field reports suggest a good increase than last year.

“We can’t give you the exact figures as it will take 15 more days but the production has certainly increased by at least 15 percent or more,” he said. Similar estimates were shared by director horticulture, planning and marketing, Shahnawaz Bukhari who said the production has increased by around 20 percent than last season.

“It was a bumper production. We also exported around 4,500 MT to other states by road, train and air,” he said. Dar said the main reason for bumper produce has been “conducive climatic conditions”.

“There was good snowfall this season which delayed the blooming. If there is early dip in temperature after blooming then the production decreases. We escaped that factor,” he said.

First Published: Jul 19, 2019 13:43 IST