Kanthallur has the unique tag of being the only place in the State with climatic and soil conditions suited to growing apple. Many farmers have taken up apple cultivation, in addition to oranges. Apple varieties such as Parle Beauty, Jonagold and Granny Smith, brought from Kashmir and other countries, are cultivated here.
The success of apple cultivation has attracted tourists to Kanthallur.
However, yields have nosedived and pest attacks have hit orchards.
This flowering season, which began three weeks ago, a fungus has affected the branches leading to decaying of the main trunk. Flowers have withered, portending a drastic drop in production. Farmers are a worried lot. They blame climate change for the situation. There was a rise in temperature for the past two years and drop in fog level, which they claim is detrimental to apple farming. The flowering season is April/May and the fungal disease now will not only affect the quantity of production but also the quality too.
Farmers graft apple varieties on the trunk of a wild variety that grows at Kanthallur. The tree will start giving yield from the fourth year.
Cow dung is the main fertilizer and even without much care, there will be good yield provided the climatic conditions are favourable.
Chandrasekharan, a farmer, said a plant would yield 70 kg of apple in a season of favourable climate. However, he said the yield may drop by half this season due to the disease.
An official at the Kanthallur Agriculture Office said scientists at the Kerala Agricultural University would be informed of the disease. He said the office was monitoring the situation.