Apple Farming Project Report
Apple is one of the oldest fruits that is grown commercially and is ranked fourth among the most widely grown fruit in the world after orange, banana and grapes. Apple is mostly grown in Kashmir in India and in the Hills of Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.
It is also extended to Nagaland, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya and is mostly consumed as a fresh fruit. However, some part of it is used in the production of jellies, juices, canned slices and candies.
China is the largest producer of Apple with a record of 38 million tonnes production in 2012. After China, the top Apple production countries in the world are the USA, Turkey, Poland, Iran, Italy, France, India, Russia and Brazil.
It is an important fruit in commercial trading and it can give you huge profits if you use a proper farm management system. The fruit is highly nutritious and has numerous health benefits. As a common proverb says, “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It is an important fruit in many countries and has a religious as well as mythological significance in many cultures including North Greek and European Christian traditions.
Let’s learn about its cultivation process in this article.
Apple – An Introduction
Apple is a table and temperate fruit crop that is grown commercially in the world after banana, orange and grapes and it has excellent health benefits and is recommended for daily consumption. It originated in Europe and Western Asia and thereafter it spread across the whole world. It belongs to the family of ‘Rosaceae’ and ‘Malus’ genus.
There are about more than 8,000 varieties of Apples all over the world. It is a deciduous tree that grows 15 to 16 feet tall and wild apple trees can even reach up to 40 feets. However, its size and shape are determined by the root stock selection and the pruning method adopted.
It is eaten raw or even used as an ingredient in many desserts like apple pie, apple crumble, apple crisp and apple cake and even in beverages like ciders and juices. Some regions also practice organic apple farming because of the increasing demand and plantation farming methods are also adopted for higher yields.
Health Benefits of Apple
Apple is a very nutritious fruit and contains about 14% Carbohydrates, 86% water and little amount of Fat & Proteins. It also contains polyphenols which have numerous health benefits.
Some of the health benefits of Apple are:
- It lowers cholesterol levels and is good for heart health.
- It is good for Skin and Dental health.
- It reduces tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria as it stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth.
- It reduces the risk of Pancreatic Cancer by up to 23%.
- It helps in reducing the risk for diabetes due to their polyphenol content.
- Red apples have an antioxidant called ‘Quercetin’ which helps in boosting the immune system.
- It helps in treating anaemia.
- It prevents Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- It is good for brain health.
- It aids in weight loss.
- It is good for digestive health.
- It promotes bone health because of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in it.
- It protects the stomach lining from injury.
Varieties/Cultivars of Apple
Apple has more than 8000 varieties that are cultivated across the globe. The most famous among those varieties are:
- Golden delicious
- Red delicious
- Pink lady
- Ida Red
- Northern Spy
Some of the Hybrid varieties are:
- Lal Ambri (Red delicious & Ambri)
- Ambred (Red delicious & Ambri)
- Sunehari (Ambri & Golden delicious)
- Chaubattia Princess
- Chaubattia Anupam (Early Shanburry & Red delicious)
- Ambrich (Richared & Ambri)
- Ambroyal (Starking delicious & Ambri)
Climate Requirement for Apple Cultivation
Temperature and Sunshine is the major factor which affects the development of apples and it requires a certain minimum chilling period for their optimum growth and quality. For growing it to the best and getting an optimum build, it requires 1000 hours of chilling below 7 degrees celsius.
The temperature however depends on the cultivar as extreme cold temperature can damage the crop. For getting good colour, abundant sunshine is required and they need to be cultivated at 1500 to 2600 metre above mean sea level and an orchard of Apple tree requires 20 °C to 25 °C on an average during their growing period and 100-130 cm evenly distributed annual rainfall.
During the fruit maturity stage, heavy rainfall or fog can result in improper development of the fruit so it should be avoided to grow in those areas where heavy winds are expected.
Soil Requirement for Apple Cultivation
Apple can be grown in most of the soils but the best suitable soil for its cultivation are well drained and deep loamy soils that are rich in organic matter and have a pH value of 5.5 to 6.5 with good aeration. However, the apple growers should go for soil tests and then decide the need of micronutrients that need to be incorporated in their soil.
For Apple cultivation, the land should be prepared by deep ploughing it and levelling it to the proper layout. The land should be well drained and free of weeds from the previous crops as it could cause harm to the crop.
For large scale commercial cultivation, it is better advised to go for soil tests to find out the soil fertility and suitability and it is recommended to add deficit micronutrients along with organic matter as a part of the soil preparation.
Propagation in Apple Cultivation
The propagation of apple trees is done through budding and tongue grafting methods and it is advised to select the planting materials carefully only from the registered or genuine nursery and when they are transplanted in the main field, proper care should be taken during their transportation.
Planting in Apple Cultivation
Apple trees are generally planted in January & February months. Apple farming follows the Hexagonal or Square system of plantation in the valleys whereas the contour system on the slopes. For proper apple fruit setting, pollinator species are planted between the main plantation.
For ex- Golden Delicious & Red Delicious species are planted as pollinators in between the Royal Delicious variety. For planting, pits of size 1m×1m×1m are dug and in each pit a mixture of 30 to 40 kgs of Farmyard manure along with 500 grams of single super phosphate and 50 grams of malathion dust is added followed by irrigation.
Spacing in Apple Cultivation
The spacing in Apple cultivation depends on the variety of crop used and the method of plantation. In general, 1 hectare land is used for 250-1250 plants. Apple cultivation uses 4 types of plant density. They are:
- Ultra High Density – more than 1300 plants per hectare
- High Density – For 500-1200 plants per hectare
- Moderate Density – For 250-500 plants per hectare
- Low Density – For less than 250 plants per hectare
Irrigation in Apple Cultivation
The Apple plants require 115 cm to 120 cm of annual rainfall that could be scheduled in about 20 irrigations. Immediate irrigation is mandatory after plantation and in case of heavy floods or rains, the water should be quickly drained out.
In summer or on hot days, irrigation should be provided at an interval of 7-9 days; in winter season at an interval of 4 weeks; no irrigation during rainy season. During the fruit setting stage, irrigation is mandatory and a minimum of 8-9 irrigations is essential during this period. An apple orchard can use drip irrigation method as it has many advantages.
Manures & Fertilisers in Apple Cultivation
Apple plantation requires a timely application of organic and inorganic fertilisers. An Apple orchard requires well composted farmyard manure of 8 to 10 kg along with other fertilisers.
The N:P:K of 70:35:70 grams per year per tree is needed to be applied for optimal growth and every year this manures and fertilisers need to be increased based on the age of the tree and after 10 years of the trees, these nutrients are stabilised at 700:350:700 grams. The deficiency of Zinc, Boron, Manganese and Calcium should be corrected by applying appropriate chemicals through foliage spray.
Intercultural Operations & Weed Control in Apple Cultivation
An apple orchard requires training and pruning as it could help in the growth of the plants and high productivity. Depending on the growing habit and vigour of the rootstock, the apple plants are trained and pruned and it helps in the proper fruit setting and colour.
For high density planting, a spindle bush system can also be followed. The growth of weeds can be controlled by frequent shallow cultivation between rows and mulch material can also be planted at the base.
Mulching helps in conserving moisture at the base of the plant and it also checks for the growth of weeds. Plastic mulch or any other Natural materials like hay, dry leaves or dry grass can be used for the mulching process. The weeds can also be controlled by chemical means by applying glyphosate at 800-850 ml per ha after the emergence of weeds to suppress the weed growth for 4 to 5 months.
Intercropping in Apple Cultivation
Some intercrops like Green beans, Green gram, Black gram or Sunflower can be cultivated during 2 to 3 years using the space in between the plants. It could help you earn some extra income but the fertiliser and irrigation requirement for these crops are separate from the main crop but it helps in improving the soil texture and fertility.
Pests & Diseases in Apple Cultivation
The major pests in Apple Cultivation are:
- Woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum)
- San Jose scale (Quadraspidiotus perniciosus)
- Blossom thrips (Thrips rhopalantennalis)
- White scale (Pseudaulacaspis sp.)
These pests can be prevented through pest resistant rootstocks and spraying fenitrothion, chlorpyrifos, carbaryl etc to the infected plants.
The common diseases in Apple Cultivation are:
- Apple scab (Venturia inaequalis)
- Collar rot (Phytophthora cactorum)
- Crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens)
- Sclerotius blight ( Sclerotium rolfsii)
- Die back diseases
These diseases can be controlled by selecting disease resistant and quality rootstock varieties. However, the infected plants should be destroyed and some chemicals such as carbendazim, copper oxychloride and mancozeb to control the diseases.
However, the local horticulture department can be contacted for suitable solutions.
Harvesting & Yield in Apple Cultivation
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Apple orchards start to bear fruit from 7th to 8th year but it all depends upon the selected variety. An apple tree lives for 35 years and fruit yield increases from 8th to 18th year and thereafter remains constant from 30 to 35 years. Some varieties produce after 35 years also, based on the selected variety and climatic conditions. The fruits are picked up when they get fully ripe
The yield of the crop depends on cooling, sunlight, soil and cultivar and on an average 10 to 15 tonnes per hectare is obtained.
Post Harvest Management in Apple Cultivation
The post harvest include the following steps:
- Pre cooling – The fruits are placed in a ventilated place so as to remove the heat of the field before getting them packed.
- Grading – Here the fruits are graded according to their size, appearance or quality.
- Storage – Apple fruits have a longer storage capacity than any other fruits. It can be stored for a period of 4 to 8 months at a temperature of about 1.10 to 0 degree Celsius and humidity of 85-90%.
- Packing – The fruit is then packed in wooden boxes of capacity 10 to 20 kg.
- Transport & Marketing – The fruits are transported to the local market by trucks or even marketed to local commission agents.
Apple Farming can give you huge profits if you select your cultivar wisely and practice good farm management skills along with suitable soil and agro climate conditions.