Orchard owners in the district are worried as the inclement weather may mar their prospects for a good crop.
These days, peach and plum trees are in full bloom across the district. However, as these trees require pleasant weather during the flowering stage for a good yield, fluctuating temperature and rain are likely to affect fruit production.
Over the last few days, the weather has been swinging between extremes, alternating between high day temperature due to clear skies and heavy rain and snow in the lower and upper reaches, respectively.
Kullu orchardist Sanjay Kumar told HT that last year, his orchard yielded a good plum crop. He added that the crop was a good alternative to apple, which was cultivated by most people in the district and was their main source of income.
“These days, the plum trees are blooming and I was hoping for a good crop. However, I fear that the changing weather conditions will spoil my chances,” he said.
Daleep Kumar, who has an orchard in Lag valley, said plum was preferred as an alternative crop, and he had earned Rs 15 to Rs 18 per kg last year, considerably boosting his income. He added that the bad
weather has shattered his hopes this year.
District horticulture department deputy director BS Rana said the inclement weather may affect 20% or more of the stone fruit crop.
“During the blossom period, pleasant weather is needed for a good crop, as pollen carriers, including bees and other insects, pollinate the flowers swiftly, leading to more yield. However, in cold weather, the carriers remain sheltered, affecting the process,” he added.
In this district, most people are dependent on annual crops, including plum, peach, pear and apple, besides vegetables, for their livelihood.
The horticulture official said 85% land in the district is under apple cultivation, while 15% is covered by other fruit crops.
In 2013, 9,164 MT plum production was recorded in the district. This was more than that in the previous year, and farmers were forced to sell their crop at lower rates at the end of the season.