A kilo of cherry in the Shimla retail market is selling at Rs 100 to Rs 180 . Low prices so early in the season is a sign the crop is heavy.
Cherry picking picks up in most of the orchards in early May and continues till June .
Over 90 per cent of cherry orchards are in Shimla district’s scenic Narkanda , Kotgarh , Kumarsain and Baagi highlands .
Farmers say a nice winter followed by wet spells in spring has resulted in trees laden with luscious red cherries .
“Last two years saw lean crops , but this time it is likely to be a bumper crop ,” Gurdev Singh , director , state horticulture department said .
But several farmers from Kotgarh said some of the crop will not be very clean as it has been dented by hailstorms.
Area under cherry cultivation has more than doubled in the last decade to 500 hectares . Farmers are also taking to growing latest imported varieties .
There are around 20 varieties of cherries . Of these the most popular are the exotic are stella , deuro , sue , lambert , bing , bella italia , triumph and domini .They are larger in size and more attractive .
Since the production last year was lean . Some of the most sought after sweet varieties in Delhi , Mumbai and Bangalore supermarkets fetched Rs 500 to Rs 600 per kg .
Farmers say in view of the good crop traders from Delhi are expected to buy the fruit directly from the farmers at their orchards. Like most stone fruits , cherry also has a short shelf life and has to be transported and consumed fast .
In 2010 the state saw the highest ever production at 1038 tonnes . This was followed by 412 and 432 tonnes in the next two years .
This year’s exact production will only be known in June when the last of the cherries is picked .