Govt asks orchardists to prune apple trees

SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government has issued an advisory for apple growers, asking them to prune orchards, which suffered major damage during recent snowfall.

Govt asks orchardists to prune apple trees

editorial@tribune.com

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, November 13

The Jammu and Kashmir government has issued an advisory for apple growers, asking them to prune orchards, which suffered major damage during recent snowfall.

The advisory has been issued by Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Sciences and Technology (SKUAST) in view of rain and snow prediction from November 14 to 16.

“Reduce the canopy load by pruning. Also, provide support by stakes to weak trees and limbs,” reads the advisory.

It advised the growers to stake newly planted trees to prevent damage to new roots, which take several years to anchor in the soil.

“If top portion of the tree breaks, cut the damaged branch 2-3 inches below the broken point and apply bordeaux or chaubatia paste on the cut surface,” it said.

If the tree gets partially uprooted, the authorities have asked the growers to slowly pull back the trees to its original position after heavy pruning and provide proper support to prevent further fall.

Heavy snowfall hit Kashmir on November 7, amidst an ongoing apple harvest season.

The government’s preliminary report suggests 35 per cent damage to the orchards, however, orchardists said the level of damage was over 70 per cent. They criticised the government for “downplaying” the level of damage.

“The officials are coming up with the figures without visiting orchards. Majority of the orchards have suffered more than 70 per cent damages,” said Ghulam Hassan Rather, an apple trader in north Kashmir.

“Instead of waiting for the compensation, growers should start pruning the apple trees to prevent further damage,” said Aijaz Bhat, Director, Horticulture, Kashmir.

He said the growers would be compensated once damage assessment survey gets completed. Both growers and officials attributed the damage to presence of dense foliage on trees, which retained snow.

At least 7 lakh families are directly engaged with Rs 8,000 crore apple industry in Kashmir, which annually produces nearly 20-lakh metric tonnes of fresh fruit and 22-lakh metric tonnes of dry fruits.

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