Two progressive farmers of Hoshiarpur district – Gurinder Singh Bajwa and Harman Randhawa – have pulled off an incredible feat by successfully growing apple trees in the plains of Punjab, a first for the state.
While Punjab government has been talking about crop diversification to save precious resources of water and soil, their effort will inspire the industrious farmers of the state who played a key role in making India a foodgrain-surplus nation during the Green Revolution and are now looking for a paradigm shift in cropping patterns.
They had planted 450 apple saplings of Anna and Dorsett varieties in 2011 and 2012 on 2.5 acres at Chohal village, which borders Himachal Pradesh, in the Kandi region of Punjab. After nearly 10 years of evolving techniques to grow apples in the foothills of Punjab under harsh climatic conditions, both have achieved commercial success in the sale of the fruit.
They say Anna and Dorsett varieties of apple can survive in the harsh, hot climate of Punjab unlike the fruit trees in temperate zones, which require a higher number of chilling hours for proper fruit setting.
Bajwa says average yield per plant of both varieties is about 35-40 kg each season. Giving details about the returns from apple orchard, Harman says about 230-250 saplings can be planted into rows per acre. “Distance between each plant is eight feet and the rows are 20 feet apart,” he informs. He says average yield of apple per acre can be about 250 boxes of 20kg each. “Let us assume apple is sold at Rs 50 per kg, then each box would fetch Rs 1,000, hence gross income per acre could be Rs 2.5 lakh in one season,” he says.