This year, in Himachal Pradesh, the extended chill, snowfall and rain have helped the apple plants meet their chilling requirement before flowering. Right now the apple crop is in different stages of bloom and fruit setting at different heights. The produce hits the market mid-July onwards.
“So far so good. We hope to have a good apple crop this year. The only worry is hail, which damages the crop. If it doesn’t come, the apple crop will be good. More so, we hope the temperature does not drop further in apple orchards in heights, above 7,000 feet, or it will disturb flowering and setting of fruits,” said an apple grower from Kotgarh.
Apples are grown across the hill state. However, upper parts of Shimla district, including Jubbal Kotkhai, produce 70 percent of the apples in Himachal. The apple economy runs into Rs 40 billion (€510 mln) in Himachal with around 150,000 families associated with it, mainly in Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur districts. Kinnaur apples are the last to come in September-October.
According to the official records, apples are produced on 125,000 hectares in the state, with productivity as low as 3-4 tonnes per hectare. The apple production in Himachal Pradesh is around 40 million boxes (one box is 20 kilograms) if the crop is good. (Last year, the state produced less than 20 million boxes).
Himachal generally contributes 40 per cent of total apple production in India, followed by Kashmir, which is at the top with 50 per cent production.