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Early spring, sudden dip in mercury will impact Kashmir’s fruit production this year: Experts

spring scaled
KM/File Photo


Srinagar: Sudden dip in temperatures is likely to have an adverse impact on fruit production in Kashmir.

Spring arrived earlier than usual in Kashmir this year due to warmer temperatures in February and March. This can be gauged by the fact that Gul Tour, a yellow-flowering herb, and Viri Kum (colchicum luteum) started blooming in mid-February in the valley. Its yellow flowers would usually blossom in March, heralding spring.

 

“Due to the sudden dip in temperature and continuous rainfall, the pollination of the blooms has been affected. Subsequently, it will have an impact on the fruiting part especially those of almond, and apricot trees in Srinagar district,” Director Horticulture Kashmir, Aijaz Ahmad Bhat told The Kashmir Monitor.

Dr. Anzar Khuroo, botanist and senior assistant professor of the University of Kashmir said for the last 40 years, there has been a steady increase in the temperatures during February.

“It has led to the preponing of flowering. Many of these plants which used to have flowering around March 15 have now advanced their flowering to mid of February. But we cannot say precisely by how much percentage it has increased and its consistency. That is yet to be studied,” he said.

According to official data of the Meteorological department, Jammu and Kashmir recorded 1.2°C rise in temperature in the last hundred years, which was 0.2-0.3°C higher than the global average temperature rise in the period. Researchers in the valley speculate the reasons can be attributed to “climate change” and “global warming”

“The early flowering is always related to the temperature conditions. When the temperature is particularly higher in the month or later February and early March, you will always see an early and scattered bloom,” Abdul Rauf Malik, Assistant Professor Department Fruit Sciences SKAUST, Kashmir said.

He maintained that if the low-temperature conditions persist, it will have an adverse impact on fruit crops. “See there are two factors. If we first see a higher temperature in February, followed by low temperatures, the blooms will get damaged. It will have an adverse impact on the production,” Malik said.

Malik stressed that ideal temperature conditions should be less than 7 degrees centigrade in January and February, so that early flowering and crop damage particularly to apple and walnut crops is prevented.

“Majority of these trees are dependent on pollinators. The flowering period for apples is 5-10 days, and that time period is very critical. If you have overcast skies, and rainy season that time, the pollination will be compromised,” he said.

He said due to the persistent rainfall, there are higher chances of fruits contracting scab disease. “They are any of several bacterial or fungal plant diseases characterized by crustaceous lesions on fruits, tubers, leaves, or stems. Since the plants have already left their dormancy and started their growth, the wet conditions can lead to the incidence of this disease,” Malik said.

Junior Scientist, Akhtar H Malik, Department of Botany, the University of Kashmir said the warm temperatures followed by cloud formations can result in the falling of blooms.

“It’s called “Sheene tcath” in local parlance. This type of cold has adverse effects on the pollination of blooms. For example, if a rosacea fruit species like almond and peaches have a thousand blooms now, with lower temperatures they are left with 500 blooms. And only those 500 will get pollinated. Consequently, the livelihood of thousands of people associated with horticulture gets affected,” Akhtar said.