With the weather becoming erratic and a clear variation in temperature, snowfall and rainfall pattern being recorded, apple crops are no more getting the appropriate agro-climatic requirements, horticulturalists and climate change experts say.
“Kashmiri apples are sweet because the rainfall is low. But in Arunachal, sometimes it rains very heavily which dilutes the sugar content of the crop affecting its taste,” Dr Nazeer Ahmad, director of Central Institute of Temperate Horticulture (CITH) in Srinagar, told PTI.
For optimum growth and fruiting, apple trees need 100-125 cm of annual rainfall, evenly distributed during the growing season.
In the last few years, there has been an unprecedented increase in the intensity of rainfall as well as cloudbursts in the north-eastern state.
Farmers of the remote Mechuka valley in West Siang district, a few kms away from the China border, complain that 15-20 years ago the apples they produced were sweet, but now the fruits taste sour.
“Earlier apples used to flower only once in a year during February. Now they flower twice a year, in late March and September. The flowers that bloom in March produce fruits, while those that bloom in September do not produce any fruits,” Dr Sanjeeb Bharali from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (Division of Natural Resource Management), Meghalaya said.
Apple cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh is mainly concentrated in Tawang, West Kameng and Lower Subansiri districts, though the fruit is of late being grown in West Siang and Anjaw districts too.
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