Soil, weather in Vizag Agency not fit for apple cultivation: Researchers

Visakhapatnam: The plans of the Regional Agricultural Research Station(RARS) to increase apple cultivation in Vizag Agency has shelved as the weather and soil conditions at Chintapalle, GK Veedhi, G Madugula and few other areas in Vizag Agency are not suitable for apple cultivation.

Since 2013, the research work to grow apples in Chintapalle had started and in 2014 the apple saplings were planted. This created a lot of excitement that apples grown in Andhra Pradesh would also be available in the market in few years along with those from Himachal Pradesh, Shimla and Jammu and Kashmir.

Although Chintapalle region experiences temperatures around 4-6 degree celsius which is required for apple cultivation, the low temperature does not remain consistent throughout the year and in the summer season, the temperature increases to 26 to 28 degree Celsius.

“The weather conditions and soil were not perfect for growing apple plants in Chintapalle region. For apple cultivation, fertile sandy soils and loams and temperature in between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius for six months are the ideal. But, the weather and soil conditions are not much ideal for the fruits,” says Dr G Rama Rao, Associate Director of Research, RARS, Chintapalle.

“As many call Chintapalle region as Andhra’s Kashmir for its low temperatures, RARS in association with Hyderabad based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) planted 60 apple saplings of the three varieties- Anna, Michael and Selection (20 saplings of each variety) shipped in from Himachal Pradesh in January 2014 at RARS premises for studying the feasibility of growing the fruit in Vizag region. However, after the research done in the past few years, we have pointed out that only some plants at the research centre bore fruit (green apple). Moreover, the apples which cultivated in the research station were found to be not great in taste and were mostly sour and of the 60 apple plants, over 10 plants died,” said Rama Rao.

Sources said that CCMB has stopped its funding for the apple project citing that it is difficult to grow tasty apples in Vizag region. The Horticulture Department has been taking up steps to promote the low chilling varieties of the apples such as Anna and Golden Dorset in a few places in Vizag Agency on an experimental basis.

“Though we planted some apple trees a few years ago expecting huge crop and good returns, we have failed to good yield and the fruits are not sweet and the consumers refused to buy the apples,” said V Raju Padal, a farmer in Lammasingi of Chintapalle Mandal.

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