3-4 ft snow in January to pave way for bumper apple crop

Subhash Rajta

Shimla, January 23

Abundant snowfall in January has brought a smile on the faces of apple growers. The orchards above 7,000 feet have received 3-4 feet snow this month, paving the way for a good crop this season.

"We haven't seen such a good snowfall in the month of January over the last 3-4 years. The snowfall from December 15 to January 30 is like gold dust for apple," said Lokinder Bisht, an orchardist from Rohru. Aurobindo Bhinta, an orchardist from Baghi, agrees. "We have had much of snowfall in the month of February over the last few years. Having such a good snowfall in January is a great start to the coming season," he said.

Experts, too, believe that the snowfall in December and January is much more beneficial to apple than the February and March snow. "As the duration of sunlight is less in December and January compared to February and March, the snow takes time to melt," said SP Bhardwaj, a horticulture expert.

"The gradual melting of snow keeps the temperatures low, which helps in providing the required chilling hours to the plant. Also, the slow melting ensures retention of moisture over a longer period of time, which is a critical factor in determining the crop," said Bhardwaj. He said the moisture helps nutrients dissolve nicely into the soil and the plants get good nutrition in active season. "When plants get good amount of nutrients, it will result in good bloom, which will ensure good setting and good fruit," said Bhardwaj.

Besides, most orchardists believe if there is a good snowfall in January, the chances of hailstorm at the time of flowering will reduce. During the last season, orchardists sustained damages due to hailstorm and snowfall in the late April. "With abundant snowfall in January, there's less likelihood of hailstorm at the time of bud swelling and flowering in March and April," said Bisht.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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