Giving a New Shine to Kashmir Apples (E)

"On this episode of Life in Science with Pallava Bagla, we taste some fresh and juicy apples. Kashmir produces eighty percent of India’s apples, producing about two million tonnes of apples annually. This industry is worth over Rs 9000 crores! Apples are an introduced fruit in Kashmir and traditional orchards offer low yields. With the use of modern science, high yielding varieties are being introduced in the Valley. The older `Amri’ and `Delicious’ varieties are giving way to varieties like 'Gala Mast', 'Red Chief', 'Super Chief', 'Gala Redlum' and 'Red Velox'. The newer varieties use a robust rootstock on which these new varieties are painstakingly grafted. These high yielding varieties are part of the M-9 rootstock and the yield is up to 4-5 times higher. The introduction of high density and dwarf planting is giving farmers much higher yields, spread over 4-5 months, so that farmers get to sell their produce over a much bigger window and are able to avoid the boom-bust cycle. Even as this is happening, the preservation of the germplasm of older varieties that were naturalized to Kashmir is equally important. The dwarf varieties can also withstand hailstorms. Many farmers are adopting organic farming and vermicomposting alongside growing their apple orchards and this fetches higher prices. This new shine on apples is boosting the horticulture industry of Kashmir. Currently, India imports apples worth $300 million from New Zealand and USA. The new high density apple orchards are converting horticulture as the new mega cash crop for Kashmir. "

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