Srinagar: For the last two days, 30-year-old orchardist from Pattan, Mudasir Ahmad, is on tenterhooks.
Leaving home at the first light, he works till midnight to speed up harvesting.
What led to the panic was the snow forecast. Ahmad fears that his produce may get affected if it snows in the valley.
MeT has forecasted rains and snow in Kashmir from October 22 to 24 with a significant drop in the temperature.
The horticulture department has also issued advisory asking orchardists to speed up harvesting. “We had planned to delay harvest for a few days. But now we are harvesting every variety as there is a prediction of rains and snow, which can affect our produce,” Ahmad said.
Panic has gripped orchardists across the valley after the weatherman forecast rain and snow. Grim memories of 2018 and 2019 returned to haunt the farmers. Farmers have hired an additional workforce to complete the harvesting process. In 2018 and 2019, the valley received snowfall in the first week of November. It caused huge damage to the orchards.
Orchardists said few varieties of apple including Maharaja and others are yet to ripen at many places. “It will take almost one and a half weeks for these varieties to ripen and then only it can be harvested. A light snowfall or even wind can cause huge damage to the horticulture industry,” said Ghulam Mohiuddin Dar, orchardists from Baramulla.
President, North Kashmir Fruit Growers Association, Fayaz Ahmad Malik said more than 30 percent of the produce is yet to be harvested in the valley.
“The growers are busy with harvest. It will take almost a week or even more than that to complete this entire process. Leaves are green and it will take time for them to shed leaves. Early snowfall means death to the horticulture sector of the valley,” he said.
Meanwhile, the advisory of the horticulture department has asked growers to ensure that there is no water logging in orchards.