Himachal is possibly the most beautiful corner of India. The scenic locations, the alluring Valleys coupled with pleasant climate makes it an ideal Tourist destination. But the biggest Tourist attractions are undoubtedly the juicy, delicious red Apples. During the Spring, Trees are found lined up on both sides of the Roads with juicy, colourful Apple varieties.

The Apple picking Season here begins as early as the 1st quarter of the year and continues till September. After harvesting the Crop, segregation, packing and finally delivering to the markets keep Farmers busy.

While the upper Shimla area produces 80 per cent of total production of the State, Apples are also grown in large areas of Kotgarh, districts of Kullu, Mandi, Lahaul, Spiti, Kinnaur and Chamba. Among these places, Kotgarh recently celebrated 100 Years of fruitful Apple cultivation. It’s the earnest efforts of an American Missionary Samuel Evans Stokes aka Satyanand Stokes who inspired locals to cultivate Apples in a large variety and convert it into a permanent source of Income. The 1st Apple Orchard of the State was planted in Kotgarh in 1916 and from there the cultivation spread to other areas too. Today, Kotgarh-Thanedar locality alone produces 80 per cent of the State’s Apple Crop. The area also boasts of being the top among the highest per capita Income areas of Southeast Asia. Locals are now diversifying the Apple crop by growing Apricots, Almonds, Cherries and Nectarines in little success so far.

The Apple yield in Himachal touched a record high during 2010-11 and then again in the year 2015-16. In the current year, the crop production is lesser but yield looks healthy. The favourable Monsoons helped the Crop to grow to the optimal size with great texture.

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The most in-demand Apple varieties hail from Kinnaur District. The Apples here are known for their natural sweetness, colour, succulence and longer shelf life which can be up to 4 Months. From Sangla and Kalpa Blocks, the major Apple producing Region, varieties of Kinnaur Apples as Royal, Golden, Red Golden and Red delicious flood the local and Delhi-Gurgaon Markets during mid-September. Needless to say, the Superior varieties also fetch excellent returns through International Exports.

The other local varieties like Red June, Summer Queen, Tydeman’s early Worcester has also found good Market in this belt. Every year, the prices per crate go up by 50-100rs in wholesale markets of Delhi and Chandigarh commanding a good profit for the producers.

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For the wanderlust souls, a special mention goes to the historical Thanedar. Here you can live the life of an apple farmer like no other. Taste the best home-made Apple pies, carry a cane basket and collect the tender Fruits from directly the boughs. Stay in the heritage Home-stays of knowledgeable Apple cultivators to get an intimate picture of their challenging yet ‘fruitful’ life. From high-orchards to open kitchens, it’s an experience worth a lifetime.

Plan to pick Apples this Season, plan us.

December 5, 2018

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