Shimla, April 2
The dry spell, accompanied by unusually high temperatures, could become a cause of concern for apple and stone fruit growers after a week or so.
“The prolonged dry spell hasn’t hurt the fruit growers yet due to the presence to abundant moisture in the soil, thanks to good rains and snowfall this winter,” says Satish Bhardwaj, chairman of the Department of Environmental Science, University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni. “The situation, however, become critical for apple and stone fruits if the current weather condition persist beyond seven to 10 days,” he adds.
Farmers advised to take to mulching
Farmers should immediately resort to mulching to prevent the loss of moisture in the soil, and start irrigation wherever they feel the soil has become quite dry. —Satish Bhardwaj, Chairman of department of environmental science, Nauni university
A sunny and clear weather over the past many days has resulted in good flowering in apple trees and good fruit setting in stone fruits. “Flowers can start dropping if heat wave continues and the soil loses moisture,” says Bhardwaj. The dry spell will hit even stone fruits. “It will impact fruit development, the fruit will not grow to it optimum size,” he adds.
Bhardwaj says that the farmers should immediately resort to mulching to prevent the loss of moisture in the soil, and start irrigation wherever they feel the soil has become quite dry. “Mulching and irrigation are two practices that will help retain moisture in the soil and enhance the probability of good crop,” he adds.
He says that given the fickleness of weather these days, every farmer should practice water harvesting so that they have enough water for irrigation as and when the need arises. “The government is spending a lot of money on water conservation, and there are several schemes the farmers can make use of for water harvesting. With the weather becoming increasingly uncertain, farmers must go for water harvesting to mitigate damage caused by dry spells,” he adds.
Deepak Singha, an apple and plum grower, agrees that the next 10 days are very crucial for both apple and stone fruits. “If the heat wave persists for over 10 days, plants will go into stress and will tend to shed flower and fruits,” he says. “Also, such a prolonged dry spell makes conditions conducive for insect attacks on the plants. So, that’s also be a big concern if it doesn’t rain shortly,” he adds.