Recent snow and rain that has brought down temperature across the state has become a cause for concern for fruit growers, expecially those growing stone fruit such as plum, cherry, peach and apricot.
Low day and night temperatures have delayed the blossoming of stone fruit, grown mostly in the districts of Shimla, Kullu, Mandi, Sirmaur and Kinnaur. Though apple continues to be one of the biggest source of livelihood for the people of Himachal Pradesh, many farmers have taken to diversification by growing peach, apricot and plum for better returns.
A grower from Kothgarh's Halyana village in Shimla district, Padam Singh Thakur, said the cold conditions had delayed the sprouting of stone fruit trees. "This will further delay flowering," he said.
Shimla meteorological department director Manmohan Singh said inclement weather would prevail for the entire week, and that there were some western disturbance winds on the cards this month. “There are some western disturbances predicted for March; this will add to the cold," he said.
Horticulture department joint director and plant protection officer ID Gupta, though said low temperatures had delayed sprouting in stone fruit trees and would also delay the setting of fruit, said it was not detrimental. “But fluctuation in temperature and delay in fruit setting could cause harm," he said. “It will, however, be good for apple as moisture level would be high,” he added.
Rameshwar Sharma of Kumarsain, Shimla district, said if the present weather conditions continued, it would delay fruit setting. “Normally stone fruit get set in April and May. But, for this, sprouting should be initiated in February-end,” he said.
Nearly 21, 500-metric tonnes of stone fruit were produced in 2013 in the state. Of this, Plum accounted for 10,000-metric tonnes, almond for 6,000-metric tonnes, apricot for 5,000 metric tonnes and cherry for 500-metric tonnes. Stone fruit are under cultivation in over 20,000 hectares.