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High-density apple plantation demand increases in India's Pulwama districtWith the growing demand for planting high-density apple trees across Kashmir valley and the continuous axing of more than a half-century old apple trees, scores of apple growers in Pulwama district have taken up the practice of planting high-density apple trees in their orchards.
The Jammu and Kashmir government launched the scheme of providing high-density apple trees to the farmers here in 2016, while as many fruit growers in Pulwama have already availed this scheme and are satisfied with their crop yield.
The Italian based high-density apple breed is said to be more crop yielding than the Kashmiri apple breed. The high-density trees require steel trellis system, root-stock, proper drip irrigation and net hail. Under traditional farming, only 250 trees can be planted per hectares, whereas the high-density plantation ranges from 2200 to 4000 plants.
In Pulwama district during 2016-17, 75 kanals of land among 31 beneficiaries were planted with high-density apple trees and under this scheme, the horticulture department provided 25 thousand for trellis structure per canal, 5 thousand for drip irrigation per kanal and 90% for plantation of trees per kanal.
For 2017-18 schemes, the target for the plantation was 59 hectares in Pulwama district distributed among nine sub-offices. But at the eleventh hour the land target was not allowed to plant because the stock received was put in quarantine period, means a period when trees are to be planted in government-owned nursery land.
The horticulture department Pulwama passed tender and the contract was given to a private firm Harshina Agri Lassipora. So far the private firm has planted high-density trees in 21 hectares and the same continues.
The largest high breed apple orchard is located in Chakoora village of Pulwama, which is spread over 42 kanals of land.
While talking to the owner of a high-density apple orchard, Showkat Ahmed, of Dangarpora Pulwama, he said, “The crop yield this year is expected to be double than previous year”.
Another fruit grower namely Farooq Ahmad Wani, a resident of Rajpora village said, “The crop yield of high density apple trees is increasing year after year and the rates are also high than the traditional apple crop, we used to sell 16 kg apple box of traditional crop for 800 rupees, but last year we sold a 10 kg box of high-density apple for 1000 to 1200.”
“Our land was selected for high breed plantation by horticulture department Pulwama, but the no one has approached us so far,” said another fruit grower of Pulwama district.
However, with the introduction of high-density apple trees, the traditional apple growers in Pulwama fear the extinction of indigenous apple crop. “If the plantation of high-density breed continued for some more years, the traditional apple varieties like Delicious, Maharaji may face the negative consequences, and the government should take note of it,” they said.
When contacted Chief Horticulture Officer Pulwama, Rajesh Kotwal, he said, “We have been receiving a positive response from the growers in Pulwama as more and more growers are registering for the high-density apple trees.”
“The present crop yield of traditional apple is only 20 metric tons per hectare, while the high-density apple breed yields 40 to 60 metric tons of apples per hectare,” he added.
Publication date: 8/10/2018
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