Despite late winter rain, apple flowering set to be delayed

By Hindustan Times on 12 Feb 2018 | read
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Many parts of the state witnessed light to medium rain on Monday while it snowed in the upper reaches in Uttarkashi, Chamoli Garhwal and Pithoragarh districts.

The meteorological department has predicted rainfall across the state and heavy snowfall in the upper reaches until Tuesday due to western disturbances.

“Light to moderate rain was witnessed throughout the state early on Monday and by late at night we can expect more snowfall in the upper reaches,” said Bikram Singh, director of the regional meteorological centre.

“Districts like Dehradun, Haridwar, Nainital and Udham Singh Nagar are likely to experience hailstorm at night. The weather, however, will become normal by Tuesday afternoon,” he said.

Snowfall was reported from Tehri and Dhanaulti, while in Dehradun, light rain started early in the morning and the sky continued to be overcast sky for the rest of the day, the Met office said.

Dehradun recorded a maximum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, a decrease of 7 degree from the previous day.

Similarly, Nainital recorded a maximum temperature of 12 degrees Celsius, Uttarkashi 17 degrees Celsius, Almora 16 degrees Celsius and Joshimath recorded a maximum temperature of 11 degrees Celsius, the Met office said.

For the next couple of days, the minimum temperature will remain 1-3 degree below normal, while the maximum temperature will hover around normal, met officials said.

Between January 1 and February 7, Uttarakhand received just 17.5 mm of rainfall, a deficit of 73%. The normal rainfall in the state for this period is 65 mm.

“Overall, the temperature has remained 2-4 degree Celsius above the normal this winter,” Singh said.

Meanwhile, the long dry winter has taken a heavy toll on famers in Uttarakhand, especially apple growers who say that absence of snowfall and no appreciable dip in the temperature, yield will be meager.

Uttarakhand ranks third in the production of apples in the country with more than 61,000 metric tonne of apple being produced every year.

“On an average, we produce more than a lakh of cartons of apples every year. But since this winter has been very dry, the flowering will be delayed, resulting in poor yield,” BC Joshi at the Himalayan Flora Sway Sahkarita, a farmers’ co-operative society in Chakrata and Gopeshwar regions.

“At best, we are expecting 40,000 to 50,000 cartons this year,” he said.

Scanty rain has also hit farm produce as farmers were not able to prepare organic manures, Joshi said.

“Crops like potato, peas, pear and pomegranate are being affected in the absence of rain.”

Apple requires a chilling period of 90 days and very little rain or snow will have a direct impact on the flowering and the quantity and quality of the produce will be affected, said environmentalist Dr Ajay S Rawat.

Early blooming of rhododendron also known as burans in the Kumaon-Garhwal region have become common in the last couple of years due to fluctuating rainfall pattern, he said.

“The rhododendrons starts flowering in March, but of late, it has started blooming even in January and this year too, rhododendrons have started blooming early in many parts of the hills.”

Scanty winter rains and snow also pose danger of forest fires as the top soil, leaf litter and humus in the forests remain dry and this acts as a catalyst during forest fires that usually start in February in Uttarakhand, forest officials said.

The state witnessed a 67% deficit in winter rainfall in 2016 and also saw one of the most widespread forest fires that gutted more than 4,400 hectare of forests, they said.