JS Bal (62), retired professor and head of fruit science department from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) was invited by the International Horticultural Congress and Ber Working Group to attend the third International Jujube (ber) Symposium held at Brisbane, Australia from August 17 to 22 .
Bal was the only scientist who was invited from India as he has been extensively researching on the fruit “ber” for the past thirt- five years and has penned six books on horticulture including three on this fruit.
In the conference, he presented his address in the opening session on development and production of Indian ber. “I stressed on the use of high density planting and new training systems on trellis for ber for easy harvesting and effective implementation of cultural practices. I also pointed out that hybridisation in ber should be done on large scale for development of varieties tolerant to biotic stresses and for processing purpose as well as to evolve dwarf and high yielding rootstocks. I also shared that work on managing fruit drop, insect-pests and diseases; biological weed control in orchards and enhancing shelf life of ber at low temperature should be taken up at top priority,” said Bal.
Besides, Bal also gave a presentation on diversity in varieties, canopy management and irrigation needs of young ber plants. In various sessions held on ber, he interacted largely with the scientist’s particularly from China, Australia, Kuwait, Taiwan, Italy and Pakistan. “It was a great experience to share a common platform with international scientists who were eager to know about ber cultivation in India,” he added
Bal’s association with ‘Ber’ trees in Golden Temple, Amritsar
“During my 34 year service at Punjab Agricultural University, I was also associated with research on reviving the historic 440 year old beri trees in the Golden Temple. In fact, the concerned officials at Golden Temple are still in touch with me for any concerns for the beri trees. I feel proud that my research also helped the historic trees to bear the fruits and hence in fortifying the life of those trees,” Bal said.
In 2011, he also attended the second international jujube symposium where he gave presentations on how he was working to save the beri trees in the Golden Temple. “Now, I am invited to inspect the trees in September at the Golden Temple,” he added.