Climate Change Affecting Apple Orchards

The apple industry of HImachal Pradesh is suffering because of changing weather conditions brought by climate change.


After the severe heat wave in north India during the months of March and April the apple farming in northern states has taken a hit. Disturbed patterns of snowfall and rainfall have resulted in poor quality yield. Because of rising temperatures the more favorable zones for growing apples have moved to higher altitudes. Prolonged dry spells and lack of chilling cold hours and rainfall are the prime culprits. Spiti, an area that was considered unsuitable for apples because of prolonged snow spells, is now becoming favorable, making orchards move up towards north. If the older orchards continue to fail the farmers will soon be debt laden. 

“The apples grown at 1,200-1,300 meters high are shifting their habitat towards higher elevations after not being able to access the mandatory chilling hours’ requirements. Apples, mainly the traditional varieties, require 1,200 to 1,500 hours of chilling at 7 degree Celsius. The precipitation in the form of snow is an important and sensitive climatic factor for dormancy but breaks proper flowering in apples.” said Dr SK Bhardwaj, head of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Solan.