This year, Pune residents will have to wait longer to taste strawberries from Mahabaleshwar as unseasonal rain has destroyed the standing crop. Strawberry growers from Satara district said the fruit will arrive in city markets only after the next flush, in a month or so.
Nearly 4,000 acres of strawberry fields, especially in Wai, Mahabaleshwar and Jawali talukas of Satara district, supply strawberries to the markets of Pune and Mumbai.
Balasaheb Bhilare, president of the state Strawberry Growers’ Association, said unseasonal rain started lashing the fields when harvesting had just begun. “…The fruits and blooms were destroyed. The ones which were harvested have also been affected by the rain and will have a very short shelf life,” he said.
The loss comes at a time when the price of strawberry in retail markets is nearly Rs 400 per kg. This crop loss will delay the arrival of strawberry by more than a month, said Bhilare, adding that he also has doubts about the next crop. “We will have to wait and see how the next flush is,” he said.
Strawberry growers in the state normally take multiple flushes, and the fruit starts arriving in the markets from October, and the supply continues throughout winter.
While Himachal Pradesh is another major strawberry-growing state, its produce is supplied to north Indian markets and doesn’t come all the way to Maharashtra. “The absence of any other producer states means city markets may not have any supply of strawberries for at least a month or so,” said Bhilare.
While a small portion of the produce is earmarked for exports, even that may not happen this year, he said.
Meanwhile, the absence of strawberries – used for a number of dessert items, especially during Christmas – has hit city bakers and confectioners, as they struggle to find alternate ingredients for delicacies which use the fruit.
– Stay updated with the latest Pune news. Follow Express Pune on Twitter here and on Facebook here. You can also join our Express Pune Telegram channel here.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines