India: December rain & hail hit grape output

Last month's untimely rain and hailstorm have affected the yield and supply of table grapes in the market this year. As the pre-season harvest flows into markets across the city, consumers complain about high prices and the quality of the fruit. Ashok Gaikwad, the president of the Maharashtra Grape Growers' Association, said, "It rained in December when the crop was ready to harvest.

Almost 80% of the crop was ruined. Last week's foggy conditions led to cracks in the crop and there are no takers for the yield now." "While early season grapes start arriving by December-end, this time the grapes came around 15-20 days late. The cold conditions increase the acidic levels in grapes and thus their sourness," added Gaikwad. The wholesale price was around Rs 50-80/kg, but retail price was higher. "This is the initial batch of grapes and hence expensive. The prices for green grapes have touched Rs 150/kg. Last year, the average price was around Rs 80-100/kg," said Abbas Khan, a fruit retailer. Khan said the longer variety available in the market is sour and hence the sale has not picked up. "Less supply to Market Yard has resulted in wholesale prices fluctuating between Rs 50-80/kg.

The quality depends on water supply and temperature," said a fruit wholesaler. Deepak Thube, a grape farmer, said the farmers have not been able to recover the input costs. "Because of rain and hailstorms, most of us suffered losses up to 40%. The first crop was almost destroyed and this fruit is from the second lot," said Thube. "If there is no rain till February and the temperature increases we can expect a good variety by mid-February," said Gaikwad.


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