New Delhi, Mar.17 : Have you ever thought of growing apples in Kerala, Karnataka or Andhra Pradesh?
Agricultural scientists might rule out the possibility, as the climate in any part of these states are not conducive to cultivate apple, but a farmer from Himachal Pradesh's Bilaspur District has defied existing scientific wisdom and developed a new variety of apple, which grows in tropical and sub-tropical regions and does not require chilling hours.
Apple is being grown at altitudes 1,500-2,700 mean sea level (MSL) in the Himalayan range, which experience 1,000-1,500 hours of chilling (means the number of hours during which temperature remains at or below 7 degree Celsius during the winter season).
But the apple developed by Hariman Sharma from Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh does not require chilling at all. It produces almost 80 percent of the output of normal apples in Kashmir or Himachal Pradesh.
A 12-13 year-old plant yields a quintal of fruit per season according to Sharma.
It was by accident, Sharma noticed the resistance of an apple plant to climatic changes in 1999, when he found an apple plant in his courtyard bearing fruits in a tropical region. Next year, he took some branches and grafted it on a plum tree.
The grafting was successful and the fruit quality too was good. He named his innovation "HRMN-99".
While conventional apples could develop improper colour and fungal spots on its surface in case of excessive rain or fog during the fruit maturity period, the new variety is resistant to scab disease, reports the indian science journal web site.
Sharma received an award for his innovation from the President of India, and was among several innovators selected by National Innovation Foundation for the 'In-Residence' programme at Rashtrapathi Bhavan recently.
The 'In-House Programme' was initiated by President Pranab Mukherjee in 2013 to promote the spirit of innovation and give impetus to grassroot innovators to work on a project at hand and take their ideas forward. It also helps to provide linkages with technical institutions to the selected innovators to strengthen their capacity and provide mentoring and support to them.
Named HRMN-99, Sharma wants to popularise the new variety across the country, and have already been distributed to several farmers in states, hitherto not known for apple cultivation like Karnataka, where it has been successfully cultivated as mixed crop with arecanut plants.