1. Agriculture World

Bumper Cherry Crop is Bringing Happiness to Apple Growers, Here’s Why

Apple producers in Kashmir plant cherry, apricot, and plum trees in their orchards to create a variety of fruit.

Shruti Kandwal
Over the last five years, fruit growers have seen bumper cherry harvests, allowing them to earn Rs 3-5 lakh at a time
Over the last five years, fruit growers have seen bumper cherry harvests, allowing them to earn Rs 3-5 lakh at a time

In Kashmir, apple is a cash crop, but this year's large cherry harvest has encouraged fruit growers to look beyond apples.

At a time when apple harvesting is still four months away, apple farmers in Kashmir are happy to witness huge cherry crops in their orchards.

According to Sayar Ahmad, a fruit producer from Shopian in south Kashmir, cherry production this year was 50 times more than the previous year. "Apples bring in roughly Rs 10-15 lakh per year," Ahmad, 30, added, "but cherry brings in income in the middle of the year."

Apple producers in Kashmir plant cherry, apricot, and plum trees in their orchards to create a variety of fruit.

Previously, fruit producers would take cherries home and never consider exporting the fruit variety, according to Ahmad. "Over the last five years, fruit growers have seen bumper cherry harvests, allowing them to earn Rs 3-5 lakh at a time when they require income to invest in apple cultivation and orchard management."

Apart from Shopian, Tangmarg and Baramulla in north Kashmir, and Srinagar and Ganderbal in central Kashmir, produce large quantities of cherry.

Makhmali, Siya, Mishri, Jaddi, Italy, Dabal, Vishkan, and Stela are the eight cherry types produced in Kashmir. Four of the eight varieties are in high demand in the market: Mishri, Jaddi, Makhmali, and Dabal. Mishri is a sweeter kind than others.

Last year, the Mishri variety, which is also recognized for its health advantages, was sold to Dubai.

According to official data, the stone fruit's annual production is over 12,000 metric tonnes, making J&K India's top cherry grower.

The Kashmir valley is responsible for 95 percent of India's cherry production. "Every year, Kashmir exports roughly 3,500-4,000 metric tonnes of cherries to other Indian states." Cherry is grown on over 2,800 hectares in the region, with an annual turnover of around Rs 130-150 crore, according to a horticulture department official.

Growers use multiple sprayings, insecticides, and intensive labor throughout the year to produce quality apples, while Ahmad claims that cherries are cultivated without such investment or effort.

Ahmad, like the rest of the growers, is busy harvesting cherries that will last until the first week of July.

Abdul Rehman Dar, a fruit grower in Ganderbal, renowned as Kashmir's cherry belt, explained that replacing conventional cherry trees with new types had resulted in bumper yields.

"Kashmir has had a big cherry crop for the past five years, and more people are getting into cherry cultivation. The credit belongs to new cherry trees, which not only produce instant crops but also have superior quality and quantity than traditional cherry trees," Dar said.

Traditional varieties, he claimed, had a short shelf life and poor harvest quality, which is why fruit farmers aren't interested in cultivating cherry in their orchards.

"Cherry also provides some relief to growers when Kashmiri apples are sitting unsold in cold warehouses due to the introduction of Iranian apples into the Indian market." Cherry can bring some short-term respite to growers because our apples are facing stiff competition and rates have decreased," he noted.

Former Director-General Horticulture Kashmir Aijaz Ahmad Bhat stated the agency has often highlighted to growers that they should go beyond apples and focus on other cash crops like cherries, apricots, and plums.

Share your comments

Subscribe to our Newsletter. You choose the topics of your interest and we'll send you handpicked news and latest updates based on your choice.

Subscribe Newsletters