By Hemant Chauhan
Shimla, Aug 8 : Apple farmers in Himachal Pradesh are worried about their crop being affected by the leaf drop disease this year.
The 'Marsonina' disease is bound to have an adverse affect on apple production in rural Shimla.
The dropping of the leaves is because of an infection caused by a fungus called 'Marsonina'. The fungus mainly attacks densely forested orchards and moisture and humidity act as catalysts.
About 20 per cent of the crop has already been damaged in the middle and the higher belts.
"All the leaves have fallen down. This isn't with my crop, most of the orchards in the neighborhood are facing the problem," claimed Jagdish Khimta, an apple grower.
Though the apple growers in the Karali area of Shimla are striving hard to save their crop, spraying it the fungicides provided by the horticulture department, the effect has been dismal.
"Leaves are falling down because of the rain. We are taking medicine from the horticulture department and spraying it regularly, but it is not stopping. We don't know whether it is because of weather or there is some fault in the fungicide," said Shivdayal Negi, another apple grower.
However, horticulturists are saying that the excessive rainfall this year is the root cause of the disease. Due to rains, the fungicide gets washed away. "This time the spray was ineffective because of the heavy rains and the attack has been more this time. Where the orchards are in the open, there the attack is less according to me," said Gurdev Singh, Director, Horticulture Government of Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir are known as the "Apple Bowls of India". Apple is the mainstay of the local economy with hundreds of rural people earning their bread and butter from it.
The main varieties of commercially grown apples in India are Royal Delicious, Rich-A-Red, Red Delicious and Golden Delicious.