Snowfall of seven to 12 cm in Shimla and its apple belt has ignited the hopes of the orchard owners for a better season otherwise threatened by a dry-spell hit by 90 per cent rain deficit in this month alone. “It is better late than never,” said Prof S K Bhardwaj, head of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan.
Reports from the apple belt of Jubbal-Kotkhai say the snowfall was a big relief for the upcoming crop to provide requisite chilling hours to the plants. But, this was too less overall and the plants needed more snow and rains before they enter the flowering stage.
The data available with the MeT department reveals that the changing trend in the snowfall and rain periods has put the orchards under stress. But, for some 10 to 15 years, the rainfall is almost negligible in the December and January months. The trend has been the same for snowfall.
Thus, even if it’s a belated snowfall the plants are going to adjust to the conditions but there was certainly a need for long term planning inview of the climate changes, suggests prof Bhardwaj. The snowfall has broken a dry spell of around 40 days this year. “We hope the next snowfall, predicted for February first week, will be very beneficial for the crop,” said Chander Thakur, a farmer at village Badheyun in Kotkhai.