When apples from Himachal Pradesh and oranges from Maharashtra arrive at your neighbourhood markets in late August, there is a good chance they’ll be less succulent and smaller in size.
The culprit: bad monsoon.
The signs are not encouraging — early arrivals in market are considerably smaller in size.
Over all Himachal’s apple crofts received 35 per cent less rainfall, says the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
“A dry winter — negligible snowfall — followed by less rains” has badly affected apple crop. Over all, the state received 56 per cent less rainfall.
“The apple size and quality will both be hit. There has been lot of fruit dropping too,” said horticulture expert S.P. Bhardwaj of Solan’s horticulture and forestry university.
Growers were being advised to wait for rain later in the month and go for a delayed harvest, he said.
Himachal’s orchards are at a lower altitude than Jammu and Kashmir’s and hence, have less moisture. “So they need rains. Otherwise, quality suffers,” said H.P. Singh, deputy director general, horticulture, ICAR.
The state accounts for 35 per cent of India’s apple production.
Growers like Ravinder Makhaik from Kotgarh are worried.
“Instead of the usual 100 apples in a box of 20 kg, this time we’ll have to put about 200 to fill it. But then yield will also be low,” Makhaik said.
Poor monsoon will affect citrus fruits like oranges, and vegetables too, Singh said.
Monsoon deficit in Haryana, where vegetables are grown in a number of districts, has been around 55 per cent. Large farm belts in Sonepat, Panipat, Karnal and Kurukshetra districts grow ladyfinger, cauliflower, bottle gourd, cucumber, capsicum, tomato and chilli.
“High temperatures and low rainfall have reduced vegetable plant life from three months to two,” said Haryana’s horticulture director Satyavir Singh.
(With inputs from Navneet Singh in Sonepat)