Kashmir cherry season: Growers expect 11,000 tons of produce

Freak weather conditions have sent Kashmir cherry farmers into distress: they claim the quality of cherries has decreased this year and it could impact their returns.

Cherries are Kashmir’s second major cash crop. It is harvested days after the strawberry is consumed. Its harvesting begins late May and lasts up to the first week of July.

Nearly 2,713 hectares of land are under cherry cultivation. It is usually grown in higher altitudes in locations like Nishat, Harwan, Lar, Dara and Kangan in central Kashmir. In north Kashmir, it is grown in Tangmarg, Baramulla and some parts of Shopian district in south Kashmir.

Growers said there are around six different varieties grown in Kashmir in 75 days. The initial variety that is ready for harvesting is the Avval, followed by Double, Gold Cherry, Makhmali and the last and most popular is Mishri. Mishri and Makhmali varieties are highly sought after due to their taste and natural colour, though some growers use chemicals for early ripening.

“Of late, the high density was introduced and it has hugely improved the yield and the income,” Director Horticulture (Planning and Marketing) Syed Shahanawaz Bukhari told Kashmir Life. “It is currently fetching the best rates in the market. Production had reached around 11,289 and 11,789 tonnes in 2017 and 2018, respectively,” said an official from horticulture department. The state had witnessed a bumper crop in 2018, which fetched good revenue.

Bukhari said the production for 2019 is more than 11000 tonnes, also making it bumper crop.

However, growers insist the production has declined by 30 per cent. The traders and the growers are lamenting over “huge losses” due to the low-quality yield owing to unfavourable weather conditions, especially due to the frequent hailstorms and torrential rains in the areas where it is grown in abundance.

Source: kashmirlife.net