SRINAGAR: Apple growers in Kashmir are facing significant challenges in maintaining their spray schedules due to the persistent rainfall in the region.

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Kashmir has been witnessing frequent rainfalls during April so far following which routine spraying of pesticides and fertilisers crucial for the health and yield of apple orchards has been disturbed.

Mohammad Akbar Bhat, a seasoned apple grower from the Sopore district, expressed his concerns, stating, “The rains have been erratic lately. It’s becoming increasingly challenging to adhere to our spray schedules. Prolonged moisture on the leaves and fruits can lead to fungal infections and pest infestations, jeopardizing the quality and quantity of our produce.”

The disruption in the spray schedule comes at a critical time for apple growers, as the flowering and fruit-setting stages are crucial for determining the yield of the upcoming season. Any deviation from the recommended spraying regimen could result in decreased productivity and compromised fruit quality, impacting the livelihoods of thousands of farmers dependent on apple cultivation.

While many farmers said their sprays didn’t succeed, some said they missed the crucial sprays due to the erratic weather.

“We had planned for sprays, which will boost the fruit setting. Due to the erratic weather, we couldn’t follow it. Even some of the farmers sprayed pesticides, which was followed with rains on the same day, hence it didn’t succeed,” said Mumtaz Ahmad Khan, an orchardist.

The growers are also worried about the significant drop in the temperature. “At this point of time orchards need dry and warm weather. It plays an important role in fruit setting. We have been witnessing during the last few years that drop in temperature during the spring season led to poor fruit setting,” he added.

In addition to the logistical challenges posed by the rains, there are also concerns regarding the potential runoff of sprayed chemicals into water bodies, which could have adverse environmental consequences. “During this season, growers spray multiple pesticides to prevent any diseases to the plant. Due to the rains, the pesticides concentration in our water bodies could increase,” said Irshad Ahmad Bhat, a botanist and environmentalist—(KNO)



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