Punjab, a major grower of kinnow crop in the country, is likely to witness at least a 25 per cent decline in the output of the citrus fruit even as the growers are fetching higher prices this season.
The orchardists blame the acute short supply of canal water and unexpectedly higher temperature during the flowering stage of the crop for the lower yield early this year.
Harvesting of kinnow, a hybrid between king and willow leaf mandarins, starts in December and goes on till February-end in Punjab.
Abohar is the leading district in the state, with a maximum area of 35,000 hectares under the kinnow crop. It is also grown in Hoshiarpur, Muktsar, Bathinda and some other districts, an official of the Punjab Horticulture department said.
“There is going to be around 25 per cent drop in the production of kinnow this year,” said Balwinder Singh, nodal officer (citrus) in the horticulture department.
As against the average output of 12 lakh MT, the yield of kinnow is likely to be nine lakh MT, Singh added.
Abohar, which has the maximum area under the kinnow crop, is expected to witness at least a 50 per cent drop in the yield, according to orchardists.
The crop, however, in other areas is likely to have normal output, said the official.
A sizable area in the Abohar district could not get a sufficient supply of canal water for irrigation between February and May, said the growers.
As the farmers were facing a water supply shortage for watering the fruit crop, the unexpected high temperature during the flowering stage in March came as a bolt from the blue.
Several farmers had to uproot their plants because of the twin impact of high temperature and shortage of water for irrigation, said farmers.
“High temperature during the flowering stage was the main reason behind the drop in yield,” said Pardeep, who grows kinnow over 100 acres of land in village Gidderanwali in Abohar.
Pardeep said he himself uprooted his 10-year-old fruit plant. A kinnow plant starts giving fruit after four to five years.
Another kinnow grower Ajit Sharan said, “There is going to be almost 50-60 per cent fall in the crop in Abohar. The temperature rose by up to 10 degrees in March, which hit the flowering of the crop”.
Sharan also grows the fruit crop over 100 acres of land in Ramgarh village in Abohar.
The flowering stage starts in February and goes up till March.
As crop harvesting started in Abohar, the farmers are fetching higher returns of Rs 25 to 29 per kg, depending upon the crop quality against Rs 18-20 per kg last season, said the growers.
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