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6. DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION IN INDIA

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6. DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION IN INDIA

Saurindra P. Ghosh*

* Deputy Director General (Horticulture),Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, India.
1. INTRODUCTION

India produces all deciduous fruits including pome fruits (apple and pear) and stone fruits (peach, plum, apricot and cherry) in considerable quantity. These are mainly grown in the North-Western Indian States of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) and in Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) hills. The North-Eastern Hills region, comprising of the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Sikkim also grows some of the deciduous fruits on a limited scale. Due to introduction and adaptation of low chilling cultivars of crops like peach, plum and pear, they are also now being grown commercially in certain areas of the north Indian plains. Out of all the deciduous fruits, apple is the most important in terms of production and extent.

Apple was introduced into the country by the British in the Kullu Valley of the Himalayan State of H.P. as far back as 1865, while the colored ‘Delicious’ cultivars of apple were introduced to Shimla hills of the same State in 1917. The apple cultivar ‘Ambri’, is considered to be indigenous to Kashmir and had been grown long before Western introductions. Pears and other deciduous fruits were domesticated successfully in the early part of the 20th century, although some of them were reported to occur under semi-wild conditions much earlier. Apricot was found growing in the drier pockets of north-western Himalayas and two apricot varieties, locally known as ‘Halman’ and ‘Rakchaikarpo’ are reported to be indigenous to Leh-Ladakh areas of J&K State.

Sweet cherry was introduced from Europe before India’s independence in 1947, while commercial cultivars of sour cherry have been brought mainly from USA in more recent years. The European and Japanese plum varieties are grown both in high and low hill areas. A plum variety ‘Santa Rosa’ reported to be a hybrid between Japanese and American species predominates (70-80%) plantations in the hills. Low chilling cultivars of peach and nectarine such as Flordasum, Flordared, and Sunred nectarine are successful introductions to the north-Indian plains. Some local selections of peach (Shan-e-Punjab, Sharbati), plum (Jamuni, Alubhokhara) and sand pear (Patharnakh) are also cultivated on a commercial scale in sub-tropical - marginal chilling areas of north India.

2. PRESENT SITUATION OF DECIDUOUS FRUIT CROP CULTIVATION

2.1 Crops Grown

India grows crops like apple (Malus pumila Mill.), pear (Pyrus communis Berm.f.), peach/nectarine (Prunus persica (L). Bats. Ch.), plum (Prunus domestica L.), apricot (Prunus armeniaca L.), sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) and sour cherry (Prunus cerasus L.) on a commercial scale.

2.2 Cultivars

The promising cultivars of different temperate fruits in 3 major deciduous fruit growing States of India are shown in Table 1. Some relevant information on cultivars and cultivar selection is indicated below:

Apple: Over 700 accessions of apple, introduced from USA, Russia, U.K., Canada, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Australia, Switzerland, Italy and Denmark have been tried and tested during the last 50 years. The delicious group of cultivars predominates the apple market. The areas covered under Delicious cultivars are: 83% of the area under apple in H.P., 45% in J&K and 30% in U.P. hills. In more recent times improved spur types and standard color mutants with 20-50% higher yield potential are favored. The important selections are:

In H.P. monoculture of a few cultivars such as Royal Delicious, Red Delicious and Richared have started showing negative impact on the apple industry. Serious problems of apple scab disease and outbreak of premature leaf fall and infestation of red spider mite are causing great concern. U.P. Hills, particularly the Kumaon hills division, have the unique advantage of early harvest of apple, mainly due to cultivation of early maturing varieties like Early Shanburry, Fanny and Benoni. The early maturing varieties are harvested 2-3 weeks before the arrival of fresh apple from H.P. and J&K, and hence fetch very remunerative prices.

Pear: In pear for higher altitude conditions high chilling requirement varieties (like Bartlett) are mainly grown. In more recent years, red-color strains of pear like Max Red Bartlett, Red Bartlett and Starking are replacing yellow colored cultivars. In warmer sub-mountainous areas of H.P. and sub-tropical Punjab oriental pear cultivars like Baghugosha, Kieffer, China and sand pear Patharnakh are cultivated commercially both for table and processing purpose.

Apricot: Generally there are two types of apricot, namely, sweet kernel type and bitter kernel type. About 81 exotic accessions and 19 indigenous cultivars were collected and evaluated. The local types Halman and Rakhaikarpo have been popular, whereas exotic introductions namely, Nari, Kaisha, Shakarpa and New Castle are promising. These cultivars are recommended for dry cold areas. The USA variety Nugget is self-fruitful and bears sweet and attractive colored fruits.

Peach: For colder conditions the peach cultivars July Elberta, Elberta, Peshwari, Quetta, Burbank and Stark Earliglo are well adopted. Low-chilling cultivars viz. Flordasum, Flordared, Shan-e-Punjab, Sharbati and Sunred (nectarine) have become popular in subtropical belts of U.P. and Punjab States.

Plum: A large number of cultivars (283) have been introduced into the country. European plums performed better in the hills, while Japanese plums are more adopted in sub-mountainous lower elevations. Leading cultivar in the hills is Santa Rosa. In the north-Indian plains small fruited cultivars like Titron, Kala Amritsari, Kelsey, and Alubukhara showed better performance. A good number of low-chilling Florida hybrids (Fla-1-2, Fla 73-4, Fla 85-2, 85-3, Fla 86-4) Sungold, Redgold etc, are under evaluation.

Cherry: Many cultivars of sweet cherry have been introduced from Europe, USSR and British Columbia. Promising exotic cultivars like Bigarrean Napoleon, Black Heart, Guigne Noir for J&K and cultivars like Black Tartarian Bing, Napoleon (white) Sam, Sue (White), Shella for H.P. have been identified. For warmer climate, cultivars like Summit, Sunburst, Lapins, Compacat and Stella have been found to be promising.

Table 1. Promising Cultivars of Pome and Stone Fruits in Major Production Regions of India

Fruits

J&K

H.P.

U.P.

Apple

Benoni, Irish Peach, Cox’s Orange Pippin, Ambri, White dotted Red, American Apirouge, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious

Tydeman’s Early, Mollies Delicious, Starkrimson, Starking Delicious, Red delicious, Richared, Granny-Smith, Red Spur, Top Red, Red Chief, Oregon Spur, Golden Spur, Michal, Schlomit

Early Shanburry, Chaubattia Princess, Fanny Benoni, Red Delicious, Starking Delicious, Rymer, Buckingham

Pear

William, Kashmir Nakh, Vicar of Wakefield, Beuree D. Amanlis, Goshbagu, Beurre Hardy

China, Bartlett, Max Red Bartlett, Flemish Beauty, Devoe, Manning’s Elizabeth, Winter Nellis

Thumb Pear, Doyene du Comice, Victoria, William’s Bartlett, Beurre Hardy, Flemish Beauty

Apricot

Charmagz, Halman, Rachkaikarpo, Nari, Shakarpara

Kaisha, Nugget, Castle, Saffeida, Charmagz

Sharmagz Kaisha, Moorpark, Turkey, St. Ambrose

Plum

Satsuma, Santa Rosa, Burbank, Grand Duke, Titron

Kelsey, Santa Rosa, Titron, Satsuma, Mariposa

Jamuni, Kelsey, Santa Rosa, Titron

Peach

July Elberta, Elberta, Quetta, Flordasun, Shan-e-Punjab, Sharbati

Alton, July Elberta, JH Hale, Sharbati, Shan-e-Punjab, Burbank

Sharbati Safeida, Flordasun, Shan-e-Punjab

Sweet Cherry

Bigarreau Napoleon, Black heart

Black Tartarian, Napoleon, Sue Sam, Lambert Bing

Bedford Prolific, Black Heart, Governor’s Wood


2.3 Rootstocks

2.4 Area and Production

Deciduous fruits are mainly cultivated in North West Hills Region of India, comprising of States of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), Himachal Pradesh (H.P.) and Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) and in the North Eastern Hills Region in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur. Available data on area and production of apple and pear are shown in Table 2.

Table 2. Area, Production and Yield of Apple and Pear in India

State

Apple (1995-96)

Pear (1992-93)

Area
(ha)

Production
(MT)

Yield
(MT/ha)

Area
(ha)

Production
(MT)

Yield
(MT/ha)

Arunachal Pradesh

5523

9730

1.76

938

2035

2.17

Himachal Pradesh

78296

276681

9.40

4653

8767

1.24

Jammu and Kashmir

78007

714834

11.0

14012

17941

1.28

Nagaland

64

109

1.70

460

1480

3.22

Uttar Pradesh

55200

210000

3.95

10550

27000

2.56

Total

217099

1211379

5.56

38536

175808

2.09


2.4.1 Apple

Although there has been 5-6 fold increase in apple production during the last 50 years, the productivity level is still very low (5.56 t/ha). Apple cultivation received greater attention by the growers. In H.P, area under apple increased from 3026 ha in 1960-61 to 78296 ha in 1995-96 with a corresponding increase in yield. J&K covers about 78007 ha under apple with a production of 714834 tons. In the U.P. hills (8 districts) apple occupies about 30 per cent of the area under fruits and contributes 46.9 percent of fruit production. The area covered under apple in U.P. hills is 55200 ha with production of 210000 tons of fruits. In the North-Eastern Hills Region, good quality apple is produced only in the rain-shadow belts of Arunachal Pradesh (5523 ha), and in Nagaland a very small area (64 ha) has been brought under apple cultivation.

About 99 percent of India’s apple area falls under the North Western Hills region, covering 6 districts of J&K (Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Anantanag, Baramullah, Kupwara), 6 districts of H.P. (Shimla, Kullu, Sirmour, Mandi, Chamba, Kinnaur) and 8 districts of U.P. (Almora, Nainital, Pithauragarh, Tehri, Pauri, Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Dehradun). In the North-eastern Hills region, good quality apple is grown in a small area in Tawang belt of Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh. The Tawang area is basically a rainshadow belt and therefore, permits a longer period of sunshine and freedom from heavy rains, making it ideal for apple. Apple is also grown in Sikkim and Nagaland but the production is not a major success. Presently, a small quantity of apple produced in India is exported, mainly to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

2.4.2 Pear

Pear is grown under a wide variety of climatic regimes, ranging from cold dry temperate hilly conditions to warm humid subtropical conditions on the plains of northern India. Its cultivation is most extensive in J&K State (14012 ha), followed by U.P. (10550 ha). In the plains of Punjab, pear is grown in a specific area (7899 ha), whereas in H.P, it is widespread from the foothills to the highlands (600-2700 m) in areas experiencing 500-1500 chilling hours. Area, production and yield of apple and pear are shown in Table 2.

2.4.3 Others

There is no reliable data on area and production of other deciduous fruit crops. Stone fruits as a group occupy an area of 0.11 million ha, with 0.14 million tons production. In H.P about 28 thousand ha are covered under peach, plum, apricot, almond and cherry. In the North-western Himalayan region, peach holds greater promise because of its utilization for canning purposes. Peach is grown mainly in low and mid hilly areas (1000-2000 m above msl), except the low chilling cultivars belonging to the Florida group, which can be grown very well under sub-tropical conditions.

European plums require more chilling than Japanese plum. Japanese plums are generally grown in low and mid-hilly areas (1000-6000 m) conditions. The climatic requirement of apricot is almost the same as that of plum, while cherries require a colder climate (1000 chilling hours below 7° C). Cherry is commercially cultivated in J&K where the hailstorm problem is not encountered.

In the North-Eastern Hills (NEH) Region, these crops can be successfully grown in Arunachal Pradesh (Kameng, Siang, Tirap and Lohit districts), Meghalaya (Central plateau of Khasi & Jaintia hills), Manipur (Maram, Tadubi, Mou, Ukhrul) and Nagaland (Mokokchung, Wokhla, Thensang, Kohima, Phek districts). The productivity of all the stone fruits is low and estimated yield of peach is 0.50, 0.73, 2.11 and 2.23 t/ha in H.P, J&K, U.P, and NEH Regions respectively. The productivity of cherry in J&K is approximately 1.73 t/ha, while average yield of apricot is 0.42, 0.20 and 0.28 t/ha in H.P, J&K and U.P. hills respectively.

3. PRODUCTION OF PLANTING MATERIAL

3.1 Nurseries

There is a large number of government and private nurseries engaged in multiplication of planting material of deciduous fruit crops. In addition, the State Agricultural Universities and the Research Institutions multiply planting material of improved cultivars for sale and distribution to the farming communities. The Government of India had supported establishment of a large number of fruit nurseries, both in public and private sectors as planned activities. During the 8th Five Year Plan (1992-97) it is estimated that over 55 million nursery plants of different perennial crops, including temperate fruits, have been produced and distributed under the scheme. There was a target for the establishment of 85 big nurseries, 587 small nurseries, and 37 tissue culture units (20 by the private sector and 17 by the Government) of different fruit crops. Exact number of these nurseries engaged in production of pome and stone fruits is not known. However, the existing nurseries (more than 600), covering both public and private Institutions, are sufficient to meet the requirement of planting material of deciduous fruit crops.

3.2 Propagation and Rootstock Information

In all the pome and stone fruits vegetative propagation techniques of budding or grafting are followed for multiplication of planting material on standard rootstocks, raised both from seeds or through clonal methods. Cropwise details are as follows:

3.2.1 Apple

For raising rootstock seedlings, seeds of crab apple or commercial cultivars are stratified during December for 2-3 months at 2-5°C. One year old seedlings are used for budding/grafting.

Clonal rootstocks are raised through mound or stool layering. The mother plants are allowed to grow for one season and cut back to 3 cm from the ground level just before the growth begins. When new growth is about 10 cm, the shoots are covered with soil leaving the growing parts exposed. Rooted layers are cut off close to the ground level and planted in nursery beds for grafting/budding.

In H.P. hills, different types of budding/grafting are recommended:

- Chip budding in mid-June and mid-September
- Whip and Tongue and cleft grafting in February - March
- T-budding in May-June
3.2.2 Pear

Seedlings of Kainth (Pyrus pashia Linn.) or Shiara (P. serotiana Rehd) are stratified in moist sand for 35-45 days at 2-5°C. Tongue grafting in February-March or T-budding during June-July is recommended.

3.2.3 Others

Plum and apricot are generally grafted on wild apricot seedling rootstocks. Peach is also used as a rootstock.

Peach is budded/grafted on wild peach and peach-almond hybrid rootstocks. Hard wood cuttings (treated with 500 ppm IBA) can also be employed for raising rootstocks.

For apricot, peach, plum and cherry shield budding during July-August has been recommended for the hills of J&K.

Micro-propagation through tissue culture technique has not yet been commercialized for temperate fruits, although tissue culture protocols have been developed at research Institutes/Universities. Colt, a rootstock for cherry can be multiplied in large numbers by following the tissue culture technique. Shoot buds are cultured in MS medium containing 1-2 mg/liter benylaminopurine. Individual shoots are rooted on MS medium containing 1 mg/liter Indole Butyric Acid (IBA). The rooted plants are transferred to sterilized sand + soil (1:1) mixture and covered for 7-10 days for hardening.

4. ESTABLISHMENT OF ORCHARDS

4.1. Land Preparation and Planting

Fertile sandy-loam to clay loam soils with pH range from 5.5 to 7.5 and free from water logging conditions are suitable for establishing deciduous fruit orchards.

In flat lands/valleys, square, rectangular or triangular planting may be adopted. In hill slopes, planting on contours or terraces is recommended. In shallow slopy lands, small terraces (half-moon terrace), may be made to establish the plants and large scale disturbance of surface soil need to be avoided.

Planting of deciduous fruit plants is done during winter months from the end of December to mid March. Planting is done in the center of pits (1x1x1m cube or circle), prepared a month before planting. While refilling the pit, 50g of aldrin powder (15%) is mixed with the soil.

After planting, the young plants are supported with stakes and basins are kept free of weeds. Mulching with dry grass or polyethylene is advisable. Irrigation is provided after planting.

4.2 Spacing

Spacing varies from species to species and depends also on the type of rootstocks used. For apple raised on seedlings of crab or other commercial varieties of apple, a planting distance of 6x6m or 7x7m accommodating 277-205 plants per ha is recommended for J&K hills. On clonal rootstocks like M4, M7, M26, MM106 a spacing of 4.5m x 4.5m (555 plants/ha) is suggested.

For spur type varieties and standard colored mutants of apple, high density planting on dwarfing rootstocks like M9, M4, M7 and MM107 has been found to be feasible. Fruit yield of 30-35 tons/ha has been achieved in 12 year old orchards of color mutants of apple on MM106 under a planting density of 2222 plants/ha (3m x 1.5m) in cooler hills of H.P. Spacings recommended for apple are shown in Table 3.

Table 3. Optimum Plant Spacing for Spur Types and Standard Color Mutants of Apple

Type

Rootstock

Spacing (m×m)

No. of trees/ha

Spur Type

Seedling (Crab)

5×5

400

Spur Type

MM111, MM109

4×4

625

Standard Type

MM106, MM109

5×5

400

Spur Type

MM106, M7

3×3

1111

Standard Type

M9

2×2

2500

Source: Awasthi, R.P. and Chauhan, P.S., 1997. Apple and Pear. In: 50 years of Crop Science Research, ICAR Publication, New Delhi.
In pear, for trees on seedling rootstock under normal conditions, spacing of 5x5m is recommended, but on clonal rootstocks (Quince A) spacing can be reduced to 3x3m.

In peach, a spacing of 4.5 to 5m and for plum, apricot and cherry a spacing of 6m are followed.

5. CARE AND MANAGEMENT OF ORCHARDS

5.1 Training and Pruning

Modified central leader system of training has been recommended for both apple and pear on seedling rootstocks. The proportional heading back and thinning out system of pruning is adopted after the juvenile phase of plant growth. Spur pruning encourages vegetative growth and helps in new spur development in old plantations. For high density planting on semi-dwarfing and dwarfing rootstocks spindle bush, dwarf pyramids and cordon system of training are suggested. Spindle bush on M7 and modified central leader on MM106 rootstocks are successful.

Peach is generally trained to open center system, while in sweet cherry modified central leader system is followed. Pruning is done in such a way so that 20-50 cm new growth in young trees and 25-30 cm in older trees are secured every year. In sweet cherry about 10% of fruit bearing area should be removed annually, whereas in apricot slightly heavier pruning should be practiced to keep the spur system renewed.

5.2 Manures and Fertilizers

Nutrient requirement varies from place to place. In Himachal Pradesh widespread deficiencies of N, P, K, Ca, Mn, Zn and B have been recorded. A fertilizer dose of 700:350:700 g of N, P and K for full grown bearing apple tree has been recommended. It has been observed that VAM (Vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizea) fungi increases P uptake by apple roots. The following corrective measures for nutrient deficiencies have been suggested for apple (Table 4).

Table 4. Corrective Measures for Nutrient Deficiencies in Apple

Elements

Chemical & Dose

Time of Spray

N

Urea, 5.0%

Pre-petal fall

Ca

Ca Cl2, 0.5%

30-45 days before harvest

Zn

ZnSO4, 0.5%

After petal fall

Mn

Mn SO4, 0.4%

After petal fall

B

H3 BO3, 0.1%

Before bloom and after bloom


In peach cv. Sharbati, 17.5 g N/tree/year and in apricot 70-100 g N/tree/year have been found to be optimum. For peach, N has been the main limiting element in H.P, while for plum, maximum fruit yield was recorded when leaf N, P and K contents were 2.89, 0.28 and 0.89 respectively.

5.3 Weeding and Mulching

In apple orchards, grass mulching (10cm thick) with one application of post-emergence herbicide Glyphosate (0.8 kg/ha) was found to be effective. The shrubby weeds were, however, best controlled by 500 ppm Gramaxone + 100 ppm 2,4,5 - T application.

Moisture conservation was maximum under grass mulching and, therefore, recommended for apple in H.P. Mulching with oak leaf was effective in U.P.

5.4 Supplementary Irrigation

Trickle irrigation at 75 per cent of field capacity results in better tree growth and higher fruit yield in apple when raised on semi-dwarfing rootstocks.

For apple, most critical period of water requirement is April to August and peak water requirement is just after fruit set. 114 cm of water during whole year through 19 irrigations have been recommended.

Drip irrigation saves water considerably. Field trials indicated a total irrigation requirement of 3840 liters water per tree under conventional system of irrigation; under drip system 1695 liters of water was enough. The application efficiency under drip system is about 2.27.

In Santa Rosa plum, irrigation at 50% field capacity gave better growth and economic returns.

5.5 Pest and Disease Control

5.5.1 Pests

In apple and pear about a dozen pests are causing serious damage to the crops. Most important ones are: San Jose Scale, Woolly apple aphid, Root borer, Blossom thrips, Codling moth and European red mite. San Jose Scale can be effectively controlled with eco-friendly miscible spray oils at 2% concentration when applied during February-March. Woolly aphids can be controlled through soil application of Phorate or Carbofuran granules during May and October/November. For codling moth, pheromone trapping was found to be effective, and certain bio-control agents have also been identified in apple orchards for controlling certain insect pests.

European red mite is becoming a very serious pest for apple in H.P. and J&K. The pest attack causes premature leaf fall. Late dormant sprays of miscible oil provide effective control of eggs. The mite can also be controlled by sprays of Dicotol (0.05%) followed by Malathion (0.05%).

In peach, leaf curl aphid can be controlled by pre-bloom sprays (at pink bud stage) of Dimethoate (0.03%) or Monocrotophos (0.04%).

Fruit fly in peach, apricot and plum can be controlled through foliar spray of baits consisting of Malathion (0.1%) + 1% sugar.

Stem and shoot borers causing damage to peach, plum, apricot, almond and cherry can be controlled by inserting 0.5g of PDCB (paradichlorobenzene) into the holes and plugging them with mud.

5.5.2 Diseases

Apple scab caused by Venturia inaequalis is a serious disease causing maximum economic loss. A sound forecasting and early warning system has been developed for prediction of scab attack. Also, a judicious fungicide spray schedule has been devised. Under high disease pressure, systematic fungicides performed better, while under low disease pressure Ergosterol biosynthesis inhibiting (EBI) fungicides were as good as protectants. Ascosporic inoculum produced by over-wintered apple leaves could be substantially reduced by giving post-harvest applications of Bavistin (0.1%) and EBI chemicals Penconazole (0.5%) and Flusilazole (0.01%) as preharvest fungicidal sprays control scab during storage.

Powdery mildew disease can be kept under check by pruning and spraying wettable sulphur (0.2-0.3%) or Karathane (0.05%) during dormancy, bud swell and petal fall stages.

Collar rot and white root rot diseases in apple occur mainly in poorly drained soils. Proper drainage of orchards and soil drenching with 0.1% Carbendazim for white root rot and with 0.3% Mancozeb or 0.3% Ridomil MZ for collar rot are effective.

Virus and virus-like diseases such as mosaic, chlorotic leaf spot, rubbery wood and others have been reported. Virus cleaning through tissue culture and supply of virus free bud wood material are being pursued to contain further spread of the viral diseases in apple.

6. INTERCROPPING

As apple is grown in hill slopes, seasonal intercropping accompanied by working the soil is not encouraged in order to prevent soil erosion. Where slope of the land is more than 10 per cent, various grasses and legumes are grown as permanent covers. The tree basins are kept clean and sod culture in the orchards is practiced in the hills of H.P. The grasses are regularly cut when 7-10 cm high and the residue is left in the orchards for decomposition. The cultivation of legumes and grasses as intercrop is becoming popular in orchards. The important legumes are red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (T. repens) and lucern (Medicago sativa). Among the grasses, orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata), fescues (Festuca arundiceae) and Timothy (Phleum pratense) are common. Orchard grass is grown where moisture is high, while fescues is suitable for dry areas or southern aspects. In apple, sometimes filler trees of peaches or dwarf apple plants are grown.

At the young age of orchard plantations, vegetables like cole crops, potato and tomato are grown to supplement the income. However, this practice is abandoned when the orchard starts bearing after 5-7 years to avoid competition. In Shimla hills and Kullu Valley areas of H.P. cultivation of gladioli for flower and bulb production as intercrop is carried out in the apple orchards since it can tolerate shading.

7. HARVESTING AND YIELD

7.1 Harvesting

7.1.1 Apple

Maturity Standards

In apple, the number of days taken from full bloom to harvest are 132-134 days for Starking Delicious, 138-140 days for Red Delicious and 147-148 days for Golden Delicious varieties in the high hills (above 2000 m) of H.P. In J&K State, the variety Maharaji requires 160 ± 3 days after full bloom for proper harvest maturity. Apple cultivar Granny Smith takes 180 ± 5 days for maturity. The maturity standards for different cultivars of apple are given in Table 5.

Table 5. Maturity Indices for Commercial Cultivars of Apple

Cultivar

Days from full bloom

Firmness (kg)

TSS (%)

Royal Delicious

125 ± 5

8.2 ± 0.40

13.0 - 15.0

Red Gold

122 ± 3

8.3 ± 0.20

12.0 - 13.5

Red Delicious

134 ± 5

8.4 ± 0.40

10.0 - 14.0

McIntosh

135 ± 4

6.8 ± 0.25

11.5 - 13.5

Golden Delicious

148 ± 6

8.4 ± 0.40

12.0 - 14.5

Granny Smith

180 ± 5

8.7 ± 0.30

11.5 - 13.0


Fruit Drop Control

Pre-harvest fruit drop in apple could be effectively checked with the application of 10 ppm NAA 20-25 days before harvest. Pre-harvest fruit drop is quite serious in early ripening cultivars like Tydeman’s Early, Red Gold and Pippins, where loss of 40-60% crop load is often experienced. Mid-season Delicious group cultivars also experience 15-20% loss.

Color Development and Enhancement of Ripening

In apple, fruit color development in warmer and lower (below 1800 m) elevations is generally poor. Application of Ethephon (2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid) about 10 days before harvest improves red coloration. Induction of early maturity by 7-10 days in mid hills situations could be achieved through an application of 500 ppm of ethephon + 10 ppm of NAA 3 weeks before harvesting. In H.P, two pre-harvest sprays of 0.5% CaCl2, followed by a 0.03% surfactant like Tween 20 for 1-2 minutes have been recommended for better shelf-life of apple.

Fruit Thinning

In apple, for obtaining better grade fruits of optimum size a post-bloom spray of 100-200 ppm ethephon 2-3 weeks after full bloom has been recommended both in H.P. and J&K.

7.1.2 Pear

Harvesting time of pear is determined by slight change in fruit color and easy separation of fruits. Fruits should not be allowed to ripen to soft condition on the tree and should be harvested when they are still hard. Depending on cultivars fruit may be ready for harvest from 70 days after full bloom (viz. cv. China pear) to 135 days after full bloom (viz. cv. Barlett). The Bartlett pear normally takes 122 ± 3 days in valley (Kuala) areas of H.P.

7.1.3 Cherry

Sweet cherry should be harvested when fruit stalk separates easily from the spur and taste develops typical to the cultivar. From full bloom it takes 45 days in cultivars like Guigne Noir and Gross Lucenta, whereas in cultivars like Bigarrean Napoleon the number of days varies from 65-75 days.

7.1.4 Peach

For harvesting peach at the right time, the proper color development in fruits and pit browning are considered as reliable guides. In yellow fleshed cultivars, deep orange color development on fruits is associated with proper maturity. At least 5% of the pit area also should be brown if the fruit is to develop good flavor at ripening. In the peach variety July Elberta, it takes about 90-95 days after full bloom, whereas on cv. Elberta it normally takes 100-105 days. In low chilling cultivars like Flordasun, fruits should be harvested at 50% color development stage.

7.1.5 Plum

In free-stone cultivars of plum, pit browning up to 5% of the pit area is a good index of maturity. For proper fruit maturity, early cultivars like Sharp Early and Formosa take 95 to 105 days, mid season variety Santa Rosa requires 115-120 days and late cultivars like Grand Duke take 130-135 days after full bloom.

7.1.6 Apricot

Apricot fruits of a single tree ripen for a period of about 3 weeks. The fruits develop detectable flavor when allowed to ripen on the tree. The early cultivar Charmagz matures within 75 days from full bloom, while the late cultivar Quetta requires 125-130 days for proper harvest maturity.

7.2 Yields

There is a wide range of variation in fruit yield in different States and in different cultivars. The average yield of apple and pear have been indicated earlier in Table 2. Although average productivity of apple in H.P. has been shown as 9.4 t/ha, some well managed orchards of Delicious apple in Kotgarh area of the same State yield about 50 t/ha. Similarly, yield record of 35 t/ha has been achieved in 12 year old plantations of colored mutant apple cultivars on MM 106 rootstocks under high density planting system (2222 plants/ha) in a research station in Shimla hills of H.P.

The average yields of different stone fruits have been indicated earlier. In brief, State-wise average yield of different stone fruits are given in Table 5.

Table 5. Average Yield of Different Stone Fruits by State

State

Fruit Yield, T/ha

Peach

Plum

Apricot

Cherry

H.P.

0.50

1.31

0.42

-

J&K

0.73

0.74

0.20

1.73

U.P.

2.11

2.50

0.28

-

NEH Region

2.50

1.18

-

-


8. MARKETING

The biggest wholesale market for apple is the Fruit and Vegetable market at Azadpur, in Delhi. About 70 per cent of the total trade of apple is distributed through this market. The seasons of market arrivals from North Western States are as follows:

H.P. - July to October with a peak in August - September
J&K - August to November, with a peak in September - October
U.P. - June to October, with a peak in July - mid September.
There are a number of marketing channels, of which the predominant are:
a) Farmer - Pre-harvest contractor - Commission agent - Wholesaler - Retailer - Consumer.
b) Farmer - Forwarding agent - Commission Agent - Wholesaler - Retailer - Consumer.
c) Farmer - Commission agent - Wholesaler - Retailer - Consumer.
The sale through pre-harvest contractors is the most important system of marketing. Normally, the small orchardists sell their crop at flowering stage to contractors who organize plant protection practices, picking and packaging of fruits.

The medium and large orchardists prefer to market their produce through channels (b) and (c). In H.P., about 65% of total apple produced is marketed through these two channels. Some Growers’ Co-operatives and Government controlled marketing Corporations (like HPMC in H.P.) also get involved in the apple market. For example, in H.P the volume of trading handled by Growers’ Co-operatives is about 3.5 to 4.0 per cent, while another 2-2.5 per cent of the total produce is marketed by HPMC.

The National Horticulture Board (NHB) of the Government of India regularly publishes and announces the wholesale price and market arrival figures of apple in different terminal markets for the benefit of the growers. Some quantities of apple are placed in cold storage facilities.

The Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd. (HPMC) has set up modern fruit packing houses in different parts of the State. Each packing house has a capacity to grade and pack 55,000 to 275,000 cartons of fruits. Cold storage facilities at the production centers and terminal markets at Delhi, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai) and Calcutta have been created. Similarly, the HPMC has undertaken large scale processing of temperate fruits like apples, peaches and others.

In H.P, grading and packing of fruits have been organized reasonably well. In apple, 7 size grades have been prescribed and dimensions of packing boxes, size of wrapping papers and number of layers of fruits for each grade have been standardized. In apricot, plum and peach, three size grades have been prescribed. Presently CFB (Corrugated Fiber Board) telescopic tray pack cartons for apple and smaller size universal CFB cartons for stone fruits are in use. These are available with HPMC at their various packing stations. Plastic crates (both collapsible and non-collapsible) are also used for cold storage and for processing units.

Picking and packaging of fruits are done in different ways at different sites. In U.P hills, trees are generally strip picked into small wicker baskets or small gunny bags which are emptied into larger baskets for carrying to packing stations. Both U.P. and J&K have developed packaging units for different temperate fruits.

India presently exports a small quantity of apple (5.95% of total fresh fruit export), mostly to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Apple cultivars like Red and Royal Delicious, Ambri and other new colored cultivars are suitable for the export market. According to the Trade Year statistics of 1993, India exported only 7000 tons of apple during that year.

9. PROCESSING

The HPMC in Himachal Pradesh owns two fruit processing plants with a combined capacity of 30,000 tons annually. The plants are equipped with modern machinery for six-fold juice concentration and aroma recovery. The plants have also facilities for aseptic bulk packaging and pasteurization. The HPMC manufactures mainly primary products like fruit pulps, single strength juices and juice concentrates. It covers fruits like apple, pear, peach apricot and plum. The pomace of the fruits after juice extraction is used for cattle feed, extraction of pectin etc.

In J&K, low grade fruits are processed for various products like apple juice, jam, jelly, fruit bars, rings, vinegar etc. from pome and stone fruits. In U.P. hills also, various types of processed products are prepared from temperate fruits. The units are mainly small and medium in size and not to the scale of HPMC. On the research side, important cultivars of apple were screened for their suitability for preparation of juice, jam, dehydrated rings, chops, cubes and preserves. Golden Delicious cultivar was found to be the multi-use cultivar to meet the FPO quality requirements. A new process for canning of apples called osmo-canning has been developed. Similarly, process for preparation of cider, wine and vermouth have been developed. Utilization of apple pomace for production of pectin and natural colors have been attempted. Although CA storage concept has not yet become popularized, fruits placed in CA store at Shalimar in J&K have shown that this system of storage has great promise for temperate fruits.

10. POTENTIAL FOR DECIDUOUS FRUITS

10.1 Area Expansion

Both North-West and North-Eastern regions of India offer large areas ideally suitable for cultivation of pome and stone fruits. In the North-West India, stone fruits like peach, plum and apricot come up well at elevations between 900 to 1500m with an annual rainfall of 90-100cm. Apple, cherry and pear are commercially successful at elevations between 1500-2700 m above msl. The cold arid regions between 1550-3650m with annual rainfall of 25-40 cm are again highly suitable for dry nuts and drying type of apricots. There are vast tracts of land still available for further expansion of these crops.

In the North-Eastern Hills, excepting the rain shadow belts of Arunachal Pradesh and high altitude Lachung area of Sikkim, apple may not be successful commercially. Other crops like pear, peach, plum and apricot offer good scope for further expansion.

10.2 Widening the Cultivar Base

The low productivity and poor quality of apple are often linked with monoculture of a few old cultivars and their degeneration over the years. The U.P hills, particularly Kumaon division, has the unique advantage of harvesting apple fruits for early market. Similarly, the rainshadow belts in North-Eastern Hills can offer good quality apple for the eastern Indian markets, thus reducing the cost of long distance transportation from North-Western Hills. Part of the markets of Bangladesh can be captured by the fruits of the North-East. There is good scope for introduction of new promising cultivars, replacing the Delicious group. Similarly, use of clonal rootstocks of Malling and Malling-Merton series and even their indexed material ‘EMLA’ selections will greatly change the productivity and quality of fruits. High density planting with spur type cultivars offer good scope. The identification of low chilling peach, plum and pear cultivars offer good possibilities for their cultivation in the low hills and in sub-tropical plains. Some of the new hybrids, including scab resistant apple cultivars need verification trials on a commercial scale.

10.3 Management Practices

Scientific water management and practicing proper training and pruning of trees including introduction of renewal pruning techniques, will make significant impact on increased production even in the existing orchards. Drip irrigation, in-situ water harvesting and correcting macro and micro-nutrient deficiencies will go a long way in bringing notable improvement in productivity as well as fruit quality. By adopting IPM strategy and organic farming practices, selected export markets can be targeted well.

10.4 Processed Products

There is immense scope for increasing various processed products of pome and stone fruits, for which technologies are available. The existing capacity of the most organized processing unit of HPMC is only marginal as compared to the volume of fruit available for processing. The HPMC utilized only 1 to 1.5 percent of total cull fruit available. The present combined capacity of two units of HPMC is 30,000 tons annually, which can be easily raised to 50 to 75 thousand tons.

The expansion of grading and packing stations, their further modernization with mechanical grading equipment, use of CFB boxes and more number of pre-cooling and cold storage units will improve the marketing system and enhance marketability of the produce. Apple has been identified as one of 6 most promising fruits for fresh fruit exports.

11. CONSTRAINTS IN DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION

Large number of old orchards (more than 30 years old) are showing decline in terms of growth and fruit yield. Such old trees do not produce adequate extension growth. Large scale replanting is therefore needed.

Delicious group of cultivars constitute the major share (about 83% in H.P.) of apple production in the country. These cultivars are self unfruitful and need cross pollination to ensure good fruit set. Interplanting pollinizer cultivars (Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Red Gold, Lord Lambourne etc.) in the proportion of 25 to 33 percent is necessary for good fruit set, and choice of wrong pollinizers and their inadequacy in number often result to low productivity.

In many countries, Delicious group has been replaced or is in the process of replacement with more promising cultivars. The need for injecting new blood into the apple industry through spread of new cultivars (spur types, color mutants, strains of Gala, Red Fuji; scab resistant cultivars, bud sport selections of Royal Delicious, and some of the promising hybrids) is urgently felt. Some of the spur type and colored mutants are already popular with farmers and high density planting has also caught the imagination of developmental departments and agencies both in H.P. and J&K. The research system has already identified Early, Mid and Late cultivars for different agro-climatic regions.

The low chilling cultivars of stone fruits have also covered large tracts of the sub-tropical plains of Punjab, U.P and H.P. For the hills, promising cultivars identified need further spread.

Generally, apple is grown in marginal land and fertilizers are not applied according to the requirements of the trees. The water and fertilizer use efficiency is generally poor. Also, spring frost and hailstorms are adverse weather parameters leading to low productivity. Research results have shown that through proper orchard management practices (soil and water conservation and fertilizer application) the fruit yield can be doubled in the existing orchards. The adoption of improved production technology developed by the research system can bring visible and perceptible changes in the temperate fruit industry in India. Technologies like use of clonal rootstocks, introduction of renewal pruning techniques and micro nutrient applications have not been transferred and adopted at a satisfactory level.

Apple scab disease has been the major plant protection problem in apple in J&K and H.P, whilst U.P hills are comparatively free from the disease. Apple scab forecasting system developed and the chemical control schedule prescribed have helped in reducing loss due to apple scab to a considerable extent. Apple growers are adopting the prescribed schedule of chemical sprays to control the disease. For checking entries of diseased material in the free areas of U.P. and North-Eastern Hills, strict quarantine and selection of elite disease-free mother plants are very essential. Often it is not followed strictly. Some of the virus diseases have also been reported in apple for which biological and serological indexing/detection procedures have been developed. Limited quantity of virus-free budwood is also being supplied. Extreme care is now required to be taken to multiply quality planting material (in apple alone approximately 2 million plants/year) for establishing new plantations.

Most of the orchardists still sell their crop at flowering to contractors as there is no well organized marketing system. Transportation in the hills itself is problematic. Post-harvest management problems originating from poor harvesting (strip picking) and improper packing system (non CFB boxes) and lack of proper pre-cooling and cold storage facilities result in huge (25-30%) loss of fruits. Capacity of the processing sector is also inadequate. Product diversification, value addition and market infrastructure development would require very substantial investment. The existing processing units are quite old and they require modernization for which substantial investment is required. CA storage trials have shown good promise. Its extension in larger growing areas is needed. Technology for storage of apple is now known, as a result of which apple is now available throughout the year.

12. GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PLANS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Research on pome and stone fruits is conducted mainly by three State Agricultural Universities, namely: a) Sher-e-Kashmir University for Agriculture Science & Technology, J&K; b) Y.S. Parmar University for Horticulture and Forestry, H.P.; and c) G.B. Pant University for Agriculture & Technology, U.P. A good number of research stations of these Universities located in major pome and stone fruit growing belts are engaged in temperate fruit research. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) through All India Coordinated Research Projects on Fruits and Post-harvest Technology and another Network project on Apple Scab disease has further strengthened the research activities in deciduous fruits. A few long established temperate fruit research stations namely at Shalimar Bagh in J&K, at Mashoobra in H.P. and at Chaubatia in U.P. hills have made commendable progress in temperate fruits. Both State Governments and the ICAR provide financial support to strengthen fruit research in these Universities. A large number of ad-hoc research projects on pome and stone fruits funded by ICAR are also generating good information on these crops.

During the 8th Government Developmental Plan (1992-1997) the ICAR established a Central Institute for Temperate Horticulture (CITH) with its headquarters at Srinagar in the J&K State, with a regional station at Mukteshwar in the U.P. Hills. Both these research stations will work exclusively on temperate fruit crops. This new Institute will receive major support during the 9th Plan period (1997-2001). In the North-Eastern Hills region, the ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region with its headquarters in Meghalaya State and regional units in each of the 5 other States are engaged in fruit research.

On the developmental side the State governments are engaged in nursery production of quality planting material. For example, in H.P. alone currently there are 600 nurseries in private and public sector producing and distributing more than 0.8 million plants of apple alone, every year. There are ambitious programs in all the States to further expand/replant with new improved cultivars. Apple scab disease control and post-harvest processing sectors are getting focused attention in Government developmental plans. The Directorate of Marketing and Inspection of the Government of India has framed grade standards for apple, plum and William pear. The organizations like National Horticultural Board (NHB), National Co-operative Development Corporation (NCDC), Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) etc., are providing incentives to traders and exporters to improve their infrastructural facilities like grading and packaging centers, refrigerated transport, setting up of pre-cooling, cold storage, auction platforms etc. The NCDC is undertaking procurement and marketing of apple on a limited scale. The NHB has set up a market information service for the benefit of growers.

13. CONCLUSION

Deciduous fruits, covering pome and stone fruits contribute significantly to the horticulture economy of India. Apple production dominates the scene and systematic cultivation and marketing of apple can change the rural economy in the hills of North-Western India. New vision and concerted efforts are required for change in variety mix, supply of quality planting material from elite clones on indexed clonal rootstocks. High density planting, water management including micro-irrigation, integrated plant nutrient management and IPM strategy for plant protection are some of the areas which need greater R&D focus. Adoption of post-harvest management practices and infrastructure development for grading, packaging, pre-cooling and storage of the produce needs focused developmental attention. Value addition and export promotion, particularly of apple are drawing due attention of the developmental agencies in India.


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