By Virendra Pathak
Allahabad, Jan.8 : Allahabad guavas enjoy a heavy demand across the country due to their delicious taste. But this year, orchard owners have suffered a major setback after plummeting temperature damaged about 75 per cent of guava crop here.
As mercury takes a dip in northern India, Allahabad's famous guava varieties namely Safeda and Surkha are bugged by a disease named "Ukta" that attacks the fruit's moisture and turns it dry and pale.
The peculiar situation has led to orchard owners' worry about losses.
According to horticulturists, although the guava season this year began with hopes of a boom in crop owing to early onset of winter, the unexpected intense cold wave has destroyed the guava crop.
"This season Ukta disease has destroyed a major portion of guava crop here. The disease generally spoils old trees and only solution is to replenish orchards with new trees at the right time. Orchardists have suffered major losses this year," said Dr. L.S. Yadav, the Horticultural officer with Department of Agriculture in Allahabad.
"Allahabad is famous for its seven varieties of guava. At least 70 to 80 percent of these varieties are bugged with Ukta, which is a fungal infection that destroys roots," said Dr. Brijesh Dwivedi, a botanist.
Jay Prakash, a guava grower, here explained how Surkha variety of guava turns red as temperature takes a plunge, thus, attracting birds which destroy the red Surkha pecking at these with beaks.
"This orchard mainly has Surkha variety of guava which grows red as winter thickens. The red colour of guava attracts birds and they destroy the crop. This season chilly winters have given us a setback," said the guava orchard owner.
Guava, also known as the 'poor man's fruit' is popular in tropical and subtropical climates and is native to India. Hence it is also named as the 'Apple of tropics'
Allahabad holds an enviable position in terms of quality guava production. Around 10 tonnes of guava is expected to hit the markets from the orchards in the vicinity of Allahabad.