Ahead of pruning, leaf fall, snow creates havoc with orchards

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 11/5/2018 12:35:21 PM

Apple trees uprooted, branches breakdown from trunks

ANANTNAG, Nov 4: The early heavy snowfall in the valley that continued till late evening on Saturday has caused devastation in apple orchards bringing gloom on the faces of farmers.
Reports reaching from many apple producing areas including Shopian, Pulwama, Dachnipora, Pahalgam and Kulgam indicated extensive damage not only to the trees but the crop as well.
The snow, according to reports, not only slashed away huge branches from the trunks but also uprooted thousands of trees. Some orchardists on seeing the damage in their orchards fainted. Social networking sites including Facebook and WhatsApp were flooded with pictures and videos of the damaged apple trees shared by the growers since early morning. Though officials said that they are yet to assess the damage caused to the orchards but scores of orchardists who spoke to Kashmir Times from different areas of south Kashmir said that they have never seen snowfall creating such a havoc.
An orchardist from Dachnipora, Mohammad Saleem said that at least 30 trees in his orchard have suffered complete damage.
"Due to the snowfall the trunks of some trees have developed cracks in the middle while the branches of other trees have broken down completely," he said.
Another orchadist from Mahind Srigufwara, Bashir Ahmad said one of his orchards has suffered at least 80 percent damage.
"Almost all the branches of around eighty percent trees in one of my orchards have broken down. The damage is such that there is no way other than planting new trees in the orchard," Ahmad said.
An orchardist from Sallar area of Pahalgam said that his 40 percent in his orchard spread over four kanals has suffered damage while as the damage to his brothers orchard is more than 50 percent.
"My brother on seeing the slashed away branches and uprooted trees fainted in the orchard. It took him almost an hour to come back to senses," he said.
Reports of extensive damage to apple orchards was also reported from Shopian and Kulgam areas where 30 to 40 percent fruit was yet to be picked.
An apple grower from Sangerwani area of Pulwama told Kashmir Times over phone, "At least forty trees in my orchard have been completed uprooted while as dozens of other trees have developed cracks in the middle. The cracks in the trees are such that as if they have been axed in the middle."
Many fruit growers who had not yet harvested their crop suffered heavy losses as they did not only lose their produce but trees as well.
"I had at least 400 hundred apple boxes still on trees but due to the snowfall most of the fruit fell down with the falling down of branches. I have never seen such devastation to apple orchards due to snowfall," said a fruit grower from Shopian Arshad Ahmad.
Experts say that the heavy damage to apple orchards is a result of the snowfall ahead of pruning and leaf fall.
"Since the snowfall happened in harvesting season when leaves and fruit in many areas were still on trees. Most of the orchardists were yet to do pruning of their trees which is done after complete leaf fall. Such an early snowfall always creates havoc with the orchards," said a horticulture expert, Abdul Rashid.
An official of the horticulture department said that they have also received the reports of massive damage to orchards and fruit.
"We have asked our district level officers to do proper assessment of the damage. Once we get the assessment report from districts we will submit the same to government with the recommendation of compensation," said a top official of horticulture.



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