Shimla: This was the last thing apple growers in Himachal Pradesh were expecting after good snowfall this season. Heavy rain and hailstorms in the past few days have caused bout 30 to 40 per cent damage to apple orchards in areas between 3000 to 6000 feet in height. As of now, the amount of damage to other crops could not be estimated, but farmers claim it could be anywhere between 20 to 40%.
Prominent apple growers in Shimla district claimed that wile hail and frost damaged flowers, sudden dip in temperature has hampered pollination. “Extreme cold condition has come as a set back to apple varieties like Royal Delicious and Red Royal that are pollinated with the help of bees,” said Lekh Raj Chauhan, President of Himachal Pradesh Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association.
The hardest hit areas have been Narkanda, Rohru, Kotgarh, Maraog, Deha, Theog and Chambi, where the damage has been done to pink buds. In lower regions, where tree are just past the flowering stage, the damage has been less.
Farmers now hope for good weather in the next two weeks, “Any further bad weather would affect apple crop severely,” said Chauhan.