Needed, a support structure for apple

August 15, 2009

Compiled by: Vikram Singh Rawat

Though apple growers in Himachal have been lucky, despite fall in production, that the crop is fetching high price in the market this season, it is high time they show foresight to remain competitive. As of now growers in Himachal appear not to have been damaged by the entry of relatively high priced and high quality imports, but the home advantage may not last long as hardly any efforts are being made to boost earning by improving quality and increasing yield to compete with imported apples. There are several factors including market forces, changing climate and also attitude that need to be worked out to save apple cultivation in the state.

Consumption growth low despite rising income
India’s per capita apple consumption of about 1.35 kg per year is low relative to other major apple producing countries. This is simply because apple is the relatively highest–priced fruit in India.

Decelerating apple production in Himachal
Indian apple production averaged nearly 1.4 million tons during 2002-2004, making it the sixth largest apple producer in the world, while its average yield, about 5.5 metric tons per hectare is the lowest of the major world producers. Production is concentrated in a few regions of northern India where the climate suits production of temperate zone crops such as apples.

Annual growth rate of India’s area, production, and per hectare yield of apples have been decelerating since the 1970s. Although harvested area has expended since 1990, declining average yield has slowed annual production growth to about 1.6 percent. Output growth has been slower than that of several major world producers, most notably China and Chile, but it has been near the average for the major world producers and significantly stronger than in the United States, France and Italy.

Most apple orchards in India are 30 years old or older and are characterised by declining yield and lack of fruit uniformity in terms of shape, size and colour. The low productivity and poor quality of apples is linked to monoculture of a few old cultivars and that have degenerated over the years. For example, in Himachal Pradesh, only a few old cultivars, such as Royal Delicious and Rich Red account for most apple area.

Farmers are increasingly concerned about problems with apple scab disease, outbreak of premature leaf fall and infestation of red spider mite on these varieties, although more than 700 accessions of apples introduced from abroad have been tried and tested during last 50 years, the delicious group of cultivar still accounts for 83 percent of production in Himachal Pradesh.


Many factors for low apple yields

• Non availability and awareness of clonal rootstocks and advanced apple varieties in the state.
• Poor extension services by the state horticulture departments for the promotion of technology up gradation, adoption of clonal rootstocks.
• 82 % growers of Himachal Pradesh grow apples as supplementary crop. So their main concern is with the other conventional crops. Thus, many farmers keep best land for conventional crops, to secure their living.
• Awareness among the farmers in regards to the advance technique of apple farming like high density apple plantation on clonal rootstocks.
• Erratic moisture and poor water use efficiency: India’s monsoon climate provides highly seasonal and erratic rainfall in apple producing areas. The mountainous conditions reduce the efficiency with which available moisture is used by the crop.
• Low use of organic fertilisers: typically used below recommended levels and due to use of old convention seedling rootstock the nutrient uptake is also low, also because of the terrain. However, this uptake in clonal rootstock is very high.
• Weather: weather conditions, such as spring frost and hailstorms, reduce productivity.
• Technology: As mentioned use of clonal rootstocks, renewal pruning technique, and micro nutrient application. At present these technologies are not being adopted by the growers, still apple is being grown with traditional way.
• Use of fertilizers: generally growers do not use fertilizers and micro nutrients according to the need of soil, plant, but some farmers also use excessive use of these fertilisers.
• Farmers are least concerned about the soil health and, rarely, few people go for soil analyses test.

Samuel Evans Stokes of Philadelphia introduced apple in Himachal Pradesh in the early 20th century and farmers can still be seen cultivating the same variety of apples and using the same planting pattern of growing cultivars on seedling stock. Though the government of Himachal Pradesh has imported apple trees in the last 6-7 years, it has not been successful in propagating the rootstocks in sufficient quantity to meet the requirement of apple growers. The growth in propagation has been stagnant. Cultivar can be propagated easily, but for rootstock either it can be propagated through tissue culture or in stool bed.

Changing climate is also challenging apple production adversely. The need is awareness, planning and adoption of the appropriate technology like selection of rootstock, variety, advanced pruning techniques, knowledge of nutrients requirements of growing and fruit giving plants and above all soil analyses.

More than 60 % of India’s total income is shared by only 40 % of population. But, even if we assume that apple is confined to this 40 % high income group, per capita consumption of 3.5 Kg is still low in comparisons with other major producing countries. We have enormous market potential available for apples, but the only thing needed is to increase production by increase in growing area or increasing yield by adopting scientific way of cultivation. Till date the cost of production of apple is 1/12 of cost of production in USA. We have only three major diseases (insect threat or Fungus attacks) against seven threats for apple growers in United States.

American growers get only two-and-a-half times of their investment returns in apples, but it is surprising that Himachal growers get thirteen times of their investment. And those who are doing it scientifically are getting more than twenty times.

(Data collected from: Economic survey, Govt. of India, National Horticulture Board, FAOSTAT(Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) and study done by Satish Dhar, Associate professor at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India. Maurice Landes and Berry Krissoff, senior economist, USDA Economic Research Service)

55 Comments

  1. viplav

    Return on investment of thirteen times, i seriously doubt that…

    how ever i do believe we need to look on alternatives

  2. Tribune also have done a story. Click here

  3. I read the article on the tribune. There is not very much difference (ONLY 20-30%)in selling price of Indian apple and Imported apple. In imported apples the number of middlemen is higher than on our apple, on imported apple import fee of 50% is also paid in addition to high frieght. Now compare how much a farmer in Chille , China or USA gets.It

    will be better to analyse the crop yields between some countries

    Countrry Area(1000Hectae) yield (MT/Hec) production(1000MT)

    New Zealand 12 43 527

    Italy 60 33.9 2052

    Chile 36 30.1 1083

    France 78 29.8 2323

    United States 162 24.9 4021

    India 247 5.5 1367

    Himachal Pradesh 87.7 3.1 273.1

  4. Aleen

    Interesting to note the return on investment aspect. If the return is as high as 13% ( i am sure this has been calculated on cost of cultivation per year – author to confirm and provide reference of the study) then that could be the reason for not investing. 2ndly, to change the cultivars and agronomic practices, one needs financial and technical support, and also loss of production during transition time will hamper return. Can these be some of the reasons?

    It seems from the article that Himachal government is trying to put efforts but may be more in needed to educate farmers along with financial and technical resources to bridge production and productivity gap and efforts to combat the impact of climate change.

    • G Chauhan

      It might not be feasible for farmers to switch onto advanced cultivars with crop bearing orchards. But still quite a large proportion of orchards in Shimla district have reached threshold limits. These are the orchards that need to pushed in to adopt advanced cultivars. You are rught here that govt. needs to put efforts in this regard. As long as govt. itself doesn't push for education and awareness of orchardists on a war scale, orchardists will not go for these cultivars due to sheer lack of awareness. And also though govt. has imported these new cultivars, but still distribution process is still entangled in red tapism. And as long as common man is not able to get hold of these, we can't expect much success here.

      • I fully agree here! Please give the farmers know how! There is no agency / deptt. which is creating awareness on this front. The Nauni Horticulture University also seem helpless. There is no clear information on the imported root stock. As far I know all the well known varieties are patented and are not being imported. So which varieties are being imported and how do they grow in various altitudes? I have seen scientists from Nauni coming to Narkanda, staying there for 2-3 days and *conducting* their field visits. Apart from the govt apathy, Nauni University has been also a dud on this front. They too behave like govt. babus.

  5. Rajesh

    However I know very little about the subject, But I wish to be an apple grower one day. Whatever I have gained through talking to people who are apple growers is that Apple farming is not professionally organized in state as of today. Although Govt support is there but that is still inediquate – In a sense that one the farmer needs to be educated on how to increase the yeild time to time secondly have more nurseries which can supply quality spalings/rootstock. I hope that I will be able to fulfill my dream one day, only problem is that I have only met folks who discourage me taking this as fultime activity

    • Hello Rajesh, I think you know more than the actual growers. Yeh apple farming is not professionally organised. Most of the growers have no plans for their orchards.Actually planning starts from the pruning method you are going to follow.According to that only you have to select rootstock and the cultivar,thus density.

      I have seen farmers picking plants imported by the horticulture department.One person took 26 plants -out of them 23 were pollinisers,this is all due to blind faith in American trees and also lack of awareness.Most of the trees imported were M7 rootstock, an outdated stock. It is very profitable provided you have proper plans, enough land, water , site location and the system- Chemical, IPM, Organic etc.

      I am going to establish high density apple farm ,started in the year 2006 and still planting trees. We also provide free consultancy of apple farming.We 'll put our efforts to fulfill your dreams comes true.

      • G Chauhan

        Yes its true that people out of lack of awareness end up getting wrong cultivars/varieties. Proper choice of cultivars and varieties determines eventual success or failure of orchard system set up over a period of time and unfortunately people stumble at the very beginning. I personally know of many instances where horticulture authorities end up giving wrong cultivar types due to sheer carelessness with reasons as astounding as wrongly naming the sample types and eventual unintended distribution of these to the end user. Unfortunately orchardist only comes to know of the blunder only a few years later at the point of no return. So I would advice orchardists to exercise extreme caution not only in choosing proper cultivars but aslo at the time of purchasing these be it horticulture department or from private nurseries as a lot is at stakes.

  6. Ashish Gupta

    Actually the returns on Apple are not surprising. Good quality apples fetch quite a premium in Metros like Delhi and Mumbai – Considering not much investment is made by farmers in HP (since a number of orchards are old and inherited), I will not be surprised even if the returns are higher than 13 percent. Apple is common place in Countries like USA and Canada, whereas in India even today an apple is quite a fetch to have in the cities.

  7. Vikram Singh Rawat

    I don't know why the farmers are still looking towards Govt. support. There has been enough incentive from the government under HTM. And… forget about the Horticulture official who themselves need exposure . So whoever come to know new things ,share it with other growers.

    Rajesh I agree that apple farming has not been professionally organised in the state. I have few examples, the growers are getting more than 12 times of their cost of production. To quote a few orcharists- Rajesh Thakur, from Snow view orchard , Mahog, who is getting this return from his old senile trees but by better management, Mr Ram Lal Chauhan from Kotkhai, by rejuvenating his old cultivars by intensive top working and converting into 100% new cultivars, Mr Dinesh Premta from Bamta village in Chopal area, just replanting the farm and replacing with clonal rootstocks.

    A very few growers know the pruning techniques which gives high yield like spindle axis, vertical axis, spindle bush and Slender Spindle. Our central leader is the lowest yield giving system,mostly adopted in Himachal.

    • G Chauhan

      I fully appreciate innovative orchardists who have switched on from traditional to advanced cultivars even at the cost of uprooting their existing orchards. I sincerely pray and hope for the success of their efforts.

      But practically speaking odds are very low that a significant proportion of orchardists would adopt this route. A lot of people may not have financial backup or the risk appetite to endure the waiting period while the new plantation becomes crops start bearing fruits. If govt. is looking at reviving entire apple industry in the state and substantially increasing productivity & yield, it can't rely on innovative measures being takes by a few individuals alone. In our state especially it takes time for ideas to catch fire. There is still skepticism in the minds of people about these new cultivars which is really not surprising, owing to complete lack of awareness in this regard. That's way I think that state govt. alone can act as an agency and provide that much needed push for this movement. The govt. needs to pro-actively educate farmers about the technicalities involved, what are the available rootstocks, what rootstock is to be used for a given soil variety/altitude and of course distribution. Apple contributes heavily to our state revenue so we need to pump in a lot of research and money., especially when in U.S. and Europe so many new cultivars are coming up at such a pace.And ultimately this information has to reach end user which obviously is not happening as of now. A few scientists conducting field studies in orchards won't suffice, local people needed to be involved. Let the chain grow, only then we can inspire confidence in people to upshiift from traditional farming methods. The last good thing happened when Satyanand Stokes brought the most aptly suited apples in this belt after doing research on his own and that too way back in early 1900's. Things have changed drastically since then but our orchardist is still standing where Mr. Stokes started. Disappointing to say the least. Maybe we need another Sokes to guide us again all over.

      I agree with you that orchardists who have know how of these things should share it with other people and would be a great step to start with. But traditionally I have observed that people tend to keep these things secret for a competitive edge. This is definitely unethical but we can't have much control over this factor.

    • G Chauhan

      Can u throw some light on the new pruning techniques and their merits/demerits, investment in terms of capital/labour, yield/productivity w.r.t. each other.

      • Yeh Chauhan ji Shortly I'll try to give you idea about merit/demerits investment in terms of capital/labour, yield/ productivity w.r.t. each other.

        But I must tell you that t planting density depends on the pruning system we are going to follow. In Himachal most of the growers follow central leader system with low density 125-200 trees/acre. Merit- is low capital investment and also low yield . I was studying the pruning system in New Zealand, according to them Some growers plant 200-300 trees/acre on semi dwarfing rootstocks with Central Leader. But Most growers plant 500-1000 trees/acre on dwarfing rootstocks with some version of Vertical Axis. A few growers plant 2000 trees/acre on dwarfing rootstocks with Super Spindle.

        Generally when we plant trees in high density, it appears and it is also true that the cumulative yield per tree come low. Generally people talk about that how much boxes would be given by this tree. It is due to our calculation method , I mean boxes per tree .However Tree density had a highly significant effect on yield per ha. The highest density system achieved 50Mt/ha on the 4th year( if we grow feathered plant) while the lowest density system can not surpass 25 Mt/ha.

      • Chauhan ji, I came to know through this conversation chain, that you are having considerable knowledge of apple farming. Whatever I know I tend to share. I hope readers may get benefit out of it.Below mentioned is the system in NewZealand. I would be happy to have your comments on my expression.

      • There are four basic types of training systems used for intensive orchards . "Modified central leader" with little pruning, "trellis," "slender spindle," and "vertical axe." There are many modifications of each system, and orchardists will need to adapt a system to suit their own particular situation . Since central leader system is widely adapted in Himachal so there is no need to discuss this, but farmers should know the proper cutting and training of this system also.

        Trellis

        Various trellis systems have been developed. These systems involve tying branches to wires and tree height is usually maintained at 6 feet to 10 feet. Trellis systems are not widely planted because pruning and training costs are high and short canopy height is not conducive to high yields unless rows are spaced closely. The number of wires used for a trellis depends on the desired height but 3 to 5 wires are common. Since It need considerable investment on stakes, wires and maintenace so this system does not appear to be suitable for Himachal Farmers.

  8. Vivek

    Dear Friends, I am working with Confederation of Indian Industry at Chandigarh and belongs to Himachal Pradesh. We are going to organize a 2 day mega event named "APPLE FEST" on 3rd and 4th October in Shimla. It will include a one full day conference on apple covering cold chains, technological advancements, organic farming, marketing, all other aspects related to apple. Big players from industry and Government such as Bharti Delmonte, Reliance Fresh, Adanis, APEDA, National Horticulture Board, Government of Himachal Pradesh, etc. will be the main speakers and we are looking forward for about 250 -300 apple growers for this conference. There will also be an exhibition for 2 days exhibiting various varities of apple, apple byproducts, latest equipments, insecticides, pesticides, etc. There will be focus on stone fruits also.

    I have gone through all your comments and therefore would like to request you all to join us for this conference and fest which will be free for you and your collegues. The conference is scheduled to take place in Hotel Holiday Home and the exhibition will be carried out on the ridge. You can contact me for any further details on this subject. My email id is vivek.thakur@cii.in and vivek512thakur@gmail.com. I would be happy to have all of you among us which will definitely resolve all your queries.

  9. Vikram Singh Rawat

    Chauhan ji I would like to thank you for the positive outlook for apple yield and production.Most of the apple growers, advanced, keep things limited to themselves.It is for other progressive farmers to keep their mind open.The cost of investment to a new high density orchard is not very high.Infact farmers should plan and select small portions to experiment with the new varieties, new rootstocks. The positive thing in high density plantation is very small gestation period.Banks in Himachal are very generous for financial support to the farmers.But mostly it has been seen that the loan raised for farming has been diverted into some other non productive purposes. I think we can create awareness by making groups of progressive farmers. You do it at your areas and I'll do at my. In fact i have already started this work you may watch our initiative at

    http://www.himvani.com/news/2009/09/02/farmers-se

    ::::::::::: so everyone join it ,this way or that way.we can surely invite some professionals fom horticulture to guide to the farmers for the benefit of state. What do you thisnk?

    Thanks to you vivek! I would like to attend this with a few of our progressive farmers.

    • Aleen

      Interesting piece of conversation indeed. To me it seems; the problems, the issues are quite well known to authors of these comments. I am neither an Apple grower nor from Himachal but the issues highlighted are similar to those faced by 70-80% of our roughly 120 million farming families of India, that I have seen and observed.

      The government apathy towards R&D investment; distribution of resources including credit; planting materials and dissemination of technical knowhow in addition to marketing problems that farmers face is common to Apple growers as well as to Mango growers. But the question you should all ask is what and how to do about it and then implement.

      Given the nature of Crop (vegetables & grain crops are easy to work with) the gestation period for successful R&D efforts for fruit crops such as Apple is long and that means it needs investment and patience to bear fruits of labour.

      One of many options could be to initiate and privatize R&D efforts; planting material multiplication; knowledge dissemination in a concerted and planned manner. I think Vikram’s effort towards that is well appreciated and should be encouraged to have more such initiatives in the region. But these efforts need funds as well technical know how. Though government through various central and state sponsored schemes do have credit facilities but bridging the last mile in technology generation; adaptation and dissemination is very important.

      To that affect, I would urge Vivek (CII) to initiate help dialogue with private players who are involved in Apple trade and procure the fruits from HP to partake in such initiative for long term (let’s say they fund for atleast 5 yrs). The land and physical efforts could be of such progressive farmers who are not afraid to share the benefits of such efforts to their lesser fortunate farmer friends and Pvt Corporate to source the technical knowledge from various parts of the world and commit for funding for long term.

    • G Chauhan

      Thanks a lot Vikram and Vivek for your initiatives. Vivek I hope it would be an informative and useful meet for budding progressive farmers. Best of luck !!

  10. I have started a blog for farmer ,and specially the apple farmers.I hope we'll be able to share our knowledge with other readers, I will try to share my experience and knowledge step by step.so please join it.

    http://kvfg.blogspot.com/

  11. There was an article in The Tribune on 5th of September-'Move to replace Existing Apple trees' .

    Article was good and all about replacement of old orchards with improved clonal rootstocks in high density to increase productivity.

    One thing which was wrongly reflected as major advantage of American Rootstock was that it is self pollinating, which in my opinion is not true. Rootstock only gives tress structure, precosity, root anchorage and nutrition uptake capacity. Pollination depends on the cultivar, the variety, one grafts on the rootstock.

  12. Vivek

    Dear Mr Rawat we are having a meeting with Mrs Manisha Nanda – Principal Secretary – Tourism and Civil Aviation and Mr Ram Subhag Singh – Secretary – Agriculture on 30 September to finalize the dates for the Apple Fest. As soon as the dates are finalized I will inform you.

  13. O K Mr Vivek, keep us updated as I suppose many readers are interested to join the Fest. I believe, you 'll leave message on 30th after meeting.

  14. In the magzine "janpaksh mail" of Sep,2009 ,there is similar story of apples titled as 'Seb Karobar Bimar' ( apple indusrtry got sick) . Horticulture minister has apprised readers about the progress of the goverment in this regard- global tenders for anti hail guns have been invited ,apple crop insurance on 50%subsidy, higher marketing fee charged by Delhi Azadpur mandi has been put in the honorable High court –all good points except cursing previous govt. for have not done enough efforts. He also stressed that old orchards will be replaced by new varieties , AND new varieties will again be imported.I wonder how long Goverment keep on importing plants. I am sure if 1/4 th(imported tree) price is offered to Himachal Nursery men, they'll be able to produce even better stuff.

  15. Dear all I think we have talked enough about the poor yields in apple production .

    It is time to give your pointwise suggestion to the Government of Himachal for the overall improvement of the apple production in terms of better returns to the growers, yield, and quality. I assure you, being the KVFG mentor, we'll take up your suggestions with the govt., hardly matters it clicks or not.

  16. Rajinder Kaushal

    Apple growers are being manipulated by the traders for marketing of more than 25 kg apples in 20 kg box. They demand "Uthi hui peti" from growers. Government should make it a law, brought it under an ACT,that there should not be not more than 20kg apples in 20 kg box.

  17. Yeh! that's a good point, It'll not only increase the yield in papers work but also The revenue of the Govt. will be increased by 20 to 30 % as marketing fee. This revenue increase may convince Govt. official to bring it as law–ACT. But I think It needs strong political will.

    Definately , point one ,that should be raised.

  18. For the benefit of apple farming. I have formed a group . This goup, I suppose, tend to increase apple yield , quality and give a solution to the number of problems being faced by the apple growers.The main objective of this group will be to bring apple farmers together. we believe every farmer will sincerely and honestly share his experience to uplift the other farmer in farming. The detail of group are as :

    Post message: applefarming@yahoogroups.com

    Subscribe: applefarming-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

    Unsubscribe: applefarming-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com

    List owner: applefarming-owner@yahoogroups.com

  19. Apple Industry Need government’s intervention

    Uniform transport system :

    The transportation system of the marketing of apple boxes is dominated by the local transport operators. There should be an agency for deciding the freight. The freight of 20 kg box from Shimla to Azadpur (distance 325 kms) is Rs 28/ . from different parts of Himachal Pradesh this amount should be added proportionately with the distance. (For example paise eighty per box be added for next 10 kms). In one place the freight may be Rs40 for a distance of 410 kms from Delhi, on other side this freight may be Rs 44 for the same distance in the same state.

    Uniform packaging:

    This field has been manipulated by the traders. They ask for more and more apples in 20 kg box. Even some farmers packs above 28 kg apples in 20 kg box i.e40% surplus . As a result Government not only loses 25 to 40 % revenue on the apple boxes but also the production of apples is miscalculated. There must be some Law for this packaging.

    Small marketing yards at cluster of village :

    Big orchardists do get good prices but small growers are exploited by the traders.

    Small apple marketing yards will attract traders to the village level. Govt should promote Fruit Marketing yards to bring transparancy in the apple selling system and also this will increase revenue by way of 4-6% of marketing fee.

    Incentive to the grower’s registered societies:

    To promote organisational setup in the form of growers group, incentive should be provided to these groups for carrying their business in the lines of Kisan Clubs by NABARD. The subsidy per box for purchase of apple carton should be continued . Some Transport subsidy can also be started if the apples are forwarded by these groups.

    Orientation and training programme:

    The weakest part of the government ‘s area is lack of knowledge not only to the growers but also to the horticulture officials. The officials are not updated with the latest development in the farming sector. There is no training centre in state for the main economic crop. Extension work of the Government is not up to the level of developing countries. There should be some monthly/ quarterly bulletin for the apple growers as well.

    Uplift private nurseries for better planting material:

    Private nurseries are not promoted by the government. Though there is enough capital subsidies under central govt schemes for horticulture development. But lack of buy back arrangement keep some nursery men under production risk due to uncertainty regarding the sale of finished apple tree . A rootstock plant is not available in the private nurseries as the prices are fixed at very low side by the Horticulture Department , on the other side same plant is purchased at Rs600 to 700 from Europe (apart from Packing, transportation, quarantine and other misc expense). Simultaneously we also loose our currency, though many people might gains currency.This price for Himachal is fixed at Rs 25 for the same type of plant, which even does not meet out the production cost. Since there is no margin in production of better tree, most of the nursery man follow bad practices and in later stage farmer has to face the consequences.

  20. Rajinder Kaushal

    I think the Apple fest, which was scheduled for october has now been fixed for November 1 and 2nd at Holdayhome, Shimla. Mr Vivek Please confirm the dates and venue.

  21. It was fixed for 1st and 2nd of November at Peterhoff but again postponed due to may be "AACHAR SANHITA". It was conveyed to me by Mr Vivek from CII, Chandigarh.

  22. G Chauhan

    There is one more point I would like to bring to notice here.

    People with average land holdings of 4-5 bighas are producing apple in excess of 15000-20000 boxes in a season. Logical question that springs up in mind is how has this miracle happened ?

    Well solution is simple. People have encroached upon forests by cutting trees mercilessly and setting up apple orchardists. Plus point – forest land is extremely fertile and moisture laden. And in some cases entire forests have been denuded to make way for apple orchards. This is not something which is happening in isolation in some areas but all across apple belt we can witness naked hills, standing testimony to human expolitation.

    Next question is why are these people not punished and put behind bars to teach a lesson to other criminals. Well a closer look and you find that almost everybody is going merry round in this activity. So a complaint by one person inevitably invites a complaint against the same person, because almost everybody is a part of this circle. So any sort of resistance by natives against forest encroachment is discarded. Next comes the politicians, the crookest of the crookest species on this planet. How can these crooks ever take action against anybody when it will invite resentment by the whole community since everybody is involved here. So these chaps simply let the issue bite dust and instead brave themselves for another round of elections.

    Thus silently for decades these forests are being butchered and even people with modest landholdings have turned into bigtime orchardists.

    We have been witnessing extreme climate changes for sometime now and deservingly so I guess. Entire eco-system has been damaged beyond repair. Add to that excessive and blind spraying for early ripening of apples and disaster recipe is complete. No wonder most of the orchards could not take the beating and have breathed their last much before it was due. A

    If we look back at last 30-40 years, then we will realize that we have completely failed ourselves and quite possibly future generations also. Can we raise our collective consciousness and put a stop to this genocide ?

    • Chauhan sahib

      Very apt issue raised. I recently traveled to Kotkhai via Baggi. While coming back as I crossed Chamain was dumb founded to see entire forest being cleared till the hill top. There used to be a forest just above the Baggi- Rohru road till the hill top two years back and this time I saw orchards cut out of it. Here I am not talking about few trees but entire forest!!

      The process is simple. First the forest land is handed over to Nepalis who sow potatoes and later apple plantation is done. This is not confined to Kotkhai alone but people have encroached on forest land every where. As you have rightly mentioned govt is deeply involved into this racket and is turning a blind eye. They already have affadavits from people as during it's last tenure the govt. promised to get all encroachments regularised against all norms.

  23. Govt. has all the records of encroachment, but again they are part of it. I personally think that the environment threat is from pine—Chir tree. Not only our forests come under fire zone but it also rises the temperature of the area by 2-3 degree celcius . Forest department is still planting chir trees at above 5000 feet, whereas with little efforts cedar can be suucessfully grown. My farm is at 5700 feet surrounded by pine trees. Every year I plant around 500-700 Deodar trees in my forest. whoever visits us, we take him to forest for the plantation.So now we have around 3500 deodar trees successfully growing around. I know there is no solution for the encroached land as all the big fishes are in the same water, but we can try to save the planet by planting more and more environment friendly trees.

  24. I am a Nursery man and planning for apple plantation in rainy season too.The rootstocks will be propagated in 3×9 inch P-bags with organic manure and organic fungicides. Does any one has idea or suggestion for/against my plans. please give comments.

  25. congratulations Apple growers! Still more rain forecasted…..more snow and more chilling.I hope apple crop will touch/cross 2008's production.

  26. This year the same old story happened when the trees w ere distributed. Did not get any fresh plants at the Navbahar office of the Horticulture department. Went to Mashobra and found the plants were been given to the selected few belonging  to the horticulture minister's constituency!! The plants which were supposed to be distributed at the block level were distributed to people wearing red caps or to the ones whom they had recommended.

    This is second straight year when no fresh plantation has happened in my orchards.!!

    • G Chauhan

      It is a well knoown fact that American rootstocks imported by Himachal govt. are firmly under the grip of Mr. Bragta. There is now way you can procure these unless you happen to belong to a particular area or you are a blue eyed boy of Mr. minister or you procure these through bureacratic connections.

      • Absolutely Chauhan sahib.

        The present minister is worst than the one in the previous Congress Government who we thought was the most in-efficientt.

        For Mr. Bragta, horticulture starts and ends in Kotkhai.

        • G Chauhan

          Nityin

          Sorry to hear about this. But as said earlier, you are not alone here. Anybody not having proper credentials as per our honorable Minister is suffering the same way as you are.

          I personally think it will be a wastage of time trying to procure these from Horticluture Dept. Private nurseries are the only option it seems. Hard luck but that's the way it is.

  27. I started my nursery in 2003,but production started in 2005.A smart, knowledgeable and well remowned scientist took apple rootstocks from me for distribution purpose @Rs 25/rootstock in 2005. He made the payments.But again in 2006 he took 3200 plants at the same cost. I never got my money. Why?…………… The same rootstocks were distributed to the most influential people of Himachal, The beaurocrates and to the politicians , He Claims / justifies that he didn't get the money from them. People have the right to know his name.I am going to disclose it shortly.

    • G Chauhan

      The whole process of rootstock distribution is a big farce. This is how it works.

      Influential private nursery owners/scientists(many have jumped onto the boat and have started their own oprivate nurseries) procure a few samples from Horticulture Dept. to start their own nurseries. As when our netas/babus require these themselves, these private nursery growers are then obliged to return the favour by distributing rootstocks to our needy babus/netas(Of course at a discounted rate to keep those in powers happy). And thus the circle of friendship and peaceful co-existence continues. No need to guess why a common man finds it impossible to get hold of these as long as he doesn't fulfil the required credentials.

  28. Dear Readers, our nursery farm have just started micropropagation ( Tissue culture)work on 14th of february. I hope, if this venture goes successfully, we shall be able to meet out the demand of virus free apple rootstocks of our state at reasonable price.

    Vikram S Rawar,9418455027

  29. arun s

    can somebody let me know about latest and most efficient way to grow apple trees with only depending on very low rainfall . i am having my orchard in low hill areas of kotkhai and having a problem of less rainfall, infect not having sufficient rainfall and water level is very low too. don't have sufficient water facilities to irrigate my orchard which is giving really good  income. before i was bringing water from other place in tankers but its really becoming hard to go with that every time. if you have any good suggestions please let me know. some body having good varieties of rootstock for re plantation in their nurseries please give your contact No. 

    • G Chauhan

      MM-111 is the only rootstock variety known to have drought resistant characteristics. This is the best choice you have currently.

      • Yeh, MM-111 is the best choice for you ,It is considered hardy plant due to its size. Himachal has good rainfall( though last year we experienced poorest). my suggestion, Don't mix chemicals in soil and make it sustainable by adding organic matter in sufficient.We have planned a seminar -worshop-conference on 22nd to 24th at Churag, Karsog on water conservation and organic farming (I have adopted Integrated pest management, IPM). Rajender Singh, Ramon Magsaysay award winner for community leadership from Rajasthan will be one of the chair person , who survived five rivers in Rajasthan. You can check the details in the event coloumn of Himvani. Invitation is open for all .please do come and bring progressive farmers and friends of your area. I may also send you details please forward your email id or contact me at 9418455027.

        • G Chauhan

          Thanks for your suggestions.

          MM-111 is indeed bigger in size & is hardy as well as pointed by you. But it doesn't owe its drought resistant characteristics to its relatively larger size, but this is due to a phenomenon called stomatal closure. Also root system in MM-111 is highly efficient in mineral & water uptake.

          Techinally plants have microscopic pores on the surface of the leaves called stomata. There is inherent mechanism in plants by which these pores open & close in response to varying environmental conditions. These stomatal pores allow passage of CO2 from outside into plants for photosynthesis and also water loss in plants occurs through these pores(similar to sweat formation in humns). It has been found out that stomatal closure process is triggered much earlier in MM-111 than other rootstocks in response to drought like conditions, which effectively means lesser water loss & better adaptibility to drought.

          Also keep in mind that root systems in modern rootstocks are highly efficient in mineral & water uptake as compared to traditional seedling rootstocks.

  30. G Chauhan

    An old adage says – "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". True it might have been at some point of time. But is it still relevant under the present context of apple cultivation. I believe sadly this is not so currently.
    What we are producing essentially is poison under the disguise of healthy appearing fruits.
    Heavy doses of fertilizers ensure toxic inorganic chemicals get sucked in by the roots all the way into the flesh of fruits in addition to ruining soil texture, fertility, killing the microbes/micro-nutrients/micro-organisms(essential for maintaining & regulating soil vitality), damaging the harmonious interplay of insect and predator interrelationships and eventually helping soil become barren over a period of time as has been witnessed in some areas of Shimla.District. If fruit interiors were not a concern enough then late chemical spraying done for early coloration ensures fruit exteriors get a share of this lethal pie as well.
    Wouldn't it be wise & true as well to say now – "An apple a day will mutate your genes the defective way."

  31. gian thakur

    Well,i m very much excited to join the conversation of such a highly experienced personalities.its realy appreciable endeavour to start such platform to share our knowledge symbioticaly.i think the major reason for low productivity of apple is its typical climatic and physiological requirments for fruit set.and worse part is that we do not have any control over many of them,which adds to the uncertanity of its production during the coming years.long gestation period along with this uncertanity in production is the reason for secondry crop attitude of many apple growers.
    during the calculation of returns from apple orchard the initial investment might be calculated errorneously otherwise its not to the tune of twenty times in real sense.or if it is so would you please provide details of mentioned calculation.

  32. Satish Gadekar

    I am Coordinator India for Qua Ter Nes BV. of Holland. Clootwijck Nurseries are a part of that group. (www.quaternes.nl) We casn supple apple, pear or cherry trees on M9 root stock. The yield per hectare will be 55 MT. If you wish to have a booklet on the trees just send your email id

  33. Manoj Smalta

    I am also going to establish high density apple orchard on rootstocks. So I think you can provide valuable guidance to me if needed. 

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