Untimely rain in March and April has damaged about 55% of the mango crop in Haridwar, district horticulture officer Amar Singh said on Thursday.
Local mango traders, however, put the damage at 90% in some areas of Haridwar, which is considered to be a major mango growing district of Uttarakhand, with around 8,000 hectares of mango orchards and over 6,000 financially-strong farmers engaged in the business across its six blocks-- Bhagwanpur, Roorkee, Narsan, Bahadrabad, Laksar, and Khanpur.
According the district horticulture office, Haridwar alone produces 50,000 metric tons of mango yearly and is known for its tasty Dussehri, Langra and Chausa varieties.
But Singh said around 55 % of the mango crop had been hit by a spell of bad weather between February and March . Singh said during this period buds begin to turn into flowers which later become fruits under mild warm weather conditions. “But untimely rain, cold winds and hailstorm have upset the flowering season,” he said.
Even during January, which is the budding season, the weather was moist which later led to a fungal growth in the flowers, adversely affecting fruit production, officials said.
Rakam Singh, a former village-head of Ibrahimpur Masai, said, "The sprays of required fungicide and pesticide have brought down the rate of damage to some extent.” But, the fruits are bound to have black spots, adversely affecting their price in the market, he said.
Many mango traders said the crop damage could be somewhere in the range of 80-90%.
Assessing the damage, Manglaur-based mango contractor Aftab Alam,said, “Only 10% of the 50,000 metric tons of annual mango production might finally go to the market for sale."
However, mango growers are hoping that a high demand and low supply could help push up their margins this year. There has been no demand by mango farmers for compensation from the government so far.
Official figures put the average annual mango production of the district at 10 metric tons per hectare. But, around 30,000 tons gets destroyed in the field and during transportation. This leaves Haridwar with only 50,000 metric tons of annual mango produce. But half of that has been destroyed by bad weather this year.