Heartbreak: Chintapalle apple cultivation comes a cropper; weather, soil not conducive

After three years of the plantation, the average number of fruits per tree was 35 and the average weight of each fruit was around 60 to 70 gm.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  3 Dec 2022 8:40 AM GMT
Heartbreak: Chintapalle apple cultivation comes a cropper; weather, soil not conducive

Chintapalle, ASR district: Years of experiments have confirmed that the tribal pockets in Alluri Sitarama Raju (ASR) district are not suitable for apple cultivation.

Scientists were expecting that the temperate weather conditions in the ASR district would be suitable for apple cultivation. But the dreams came crashing down.

Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Chintapalle with the support of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, planted low-chilling varieties of apple saplings including Anna, and Michael in 2014.

After three years of the plantation, the average number of fruits per tree was 35 and the average weight of each fruit was around 60 to 70 gm. This had created a lot of excitement that apples grown in tribal pockets of Andhra Pradesh would also be available in the market in the future along with those from Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir.

Later, ITDA, Paderu, distributed low chilling varieties of apple saplings-Anna and Dorsett Golden to 90 tribal farmers under four Mandals- Chintapalli, GK Veedhi, Paderu, and Araku Valley Mandals in ASR district in between 2016 and 2017.

The apple trees at Madem village in the ASR district yielded anywhere between 30 and 34 fruits per tree. The area under apple orchards increased to 60 acres in the ASR district. Authorities planned to extend the area to 200 acres. After, a few years, the crop failed.

Associate Director of Research, RARS, Chintapalle, Dr. M Suresh Kumar, said the weather and soil conditions are not favorable for apple cultivation in the ASR district.

"Although Chintapalle region experiences temperatures around 5 to 7 degree Celsius during winter which is required for apple cultivation. But there was no consistency in the temperature throughout the year in the region. We have observed that weather and soil in the region are not perfect for apple cultivation," he added.

The apples normally grow in the Himalayan belt because of cold weather conditions. Though Chintapalle, GK Veedhi, Paderu, and Araku Valley Mandals in the ASR district are known for cool weather conditions in the state, the fluctuations in temperatures in the region damped the apple cultivation. "We have visited a few villages where apple saplings were planted, the farmers were not happy with the yield and some trees are dying," said Horticulture Officer of ASR district, A Ramesh Kumar.

"We have been witnessing profits in strawberry farming as the weather and soil conditions are encouraging strawberry farming in the Chintapalle region. Some farmers, who grew apples experienced bitter results and they may switch to strawberry farming," said R Kumar, a tribal farmer in the Chintapalle region.

KEY POINTS

Lammasingi in the ASR district emerges as the coldest place in AP with 4 to 5 degrees Celsius during peak winter

Anna and Dorsett Golden varieties of apples were introduced in the upper reaches of Eastern Ghats

Few farmers experienced some yield for a couple of years only

The taste of the Chintapalle region apples was sour and juicy

Some of the apple trees at RARS died, remaining as museum crops in Chintaplle.

RARS focused research on new varieties of dragon fruit, strawberry, and avocado

ITDA spent Rs 300 on each apple sapling, but the result is not sweet

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