Apple crop is set to break all past records in Himachal Pradesh with production crossing 3.85 crore boxes during the current marketing season of June to October, officials said on Sunday.
The production was about 90 lakh boxes more than the highest production of 2.67 crore standard boxes (each box comprising 20 kg) in 2007 and almost three times more than the 1.30 crore boxes produced in 2009.
About three crore boxes had already been sent to various markets across the country while 90 lakh to one crore boxes were yet to be sent to the market.
About 40 lakh boxes were stranded in Jubbal-Kotkhai areas due to a massive landslide on Shimla-Jubbal road near Gumma, 50 km from Shimla. The road was closed on Saturday evening as a 200-metre stretch of the road was washed away and hundreds of apple-laden trucks got stuck en route.
The juicy apple from tribal Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti districts was yet to hit the market and this year the production in twin tribal districts was expected to cross 40 lakh boxes as compared to 20 to 25 lakh boxes during the previous years.
The government agencies sent about 70,000 tonnes of apple under Market Intervention Scheme (MIS) for processing but due to lack of storage capacity, a large quantity of apple was rotting, sources said.
A record apple crop coupled with heavy rains causing numerous road breaches in the apple belt, especially in Shimla district, hampered transportation of the fruit.
However, the disruption in transportation helped in avoiding glut in the markets and the prices, though less than last year, were more or less stable. The row over charging of commission from the growers at Azadpur market also made the growers apprehensive.
While substantial quantity of apple was sent to hitherto unexplored markets in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, some big agri-business companies like Adani and Reliance also directly purchased apple from the growers.
The timely rains helped in improving the colour and size of apple and it was one of the reasons that the crop completely surpassed the earlier production estimates pegged at around 3 crore boxes.
The growers from Kinnaur and Lahaul and Spiti and other high-altitude areas were hoping for a bonanza during the Commonwealth Games as the late varieties of apple are juicy and bigger in size, said a grower from Lahaul.