Mango lovers are in for a big disappointment this summer. Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have damaged mango plantations in Telangana to such an extent that traders and agriculture experts fear short supplies, less tasty and carbide-laden fruits hitting the city markets in a few months.
Mango farmers said that rains accompanied by hail and gusty winds have damaged the new fruit and flowers already. They fear that excess water would adversely affect the flowering process, which in turn would lower the quality of crop. Traders at city fruit markets predicted that short supplies would increase the use of carbide to ripen fruit.
“Normally the fruit should remain on the plant for at least 60 days. If the weather conditions do not improve, the plucking of some varieties like Totapuri could start early,” said Md Tajuddin , adding that they might have to use artificial ripening methods before sending the fruit out to the retail market.
In the last 10 days, many mango-growing regions, including Warangal, Khammam , Krishna, Anantapur and Kurnool districts, received rainfall with Warangal , experiencing severe hailstorm that destroyed flowering buds and new fruits. Authorities said about 15,359 hectares of mango plantations have been destroyed across the region, causing a loss of crores of rupees.
“We had light showers even on Thursday. For mangoes at this time, a sunny climate is most suitable. While moderate rains without gusty winds are good for fruits which are a few weeks old, it is disastrous for flowers and newly-formed fruit,” said Mohammed Pasha, a mango cultivator in Kothagudem.
Karide Srinivas, a cultivator from Warangal, said that mango cultivators are faced with heavy losses and the supply of fruit to the market will be delayed. “The wet conditions, which can persist for some time after rains, cause spotting of the fruit,” he said.
Going by the damage suffered by other fruits, officials said they expect a 25% decline in arrivals of mango this season compared to last year. However, mango growers predicted greater loss of yield.
Bitter mangoes: Blame climate
“We expect 60% crop failure this season. The newly-formed fruit has suffered great damage because of fungal infection,” said Challa Ramakrisnha , a cultivator in Nuzvid in Krishna district , which is one of the largest mango producing regions in the country.
Cultivators also said that they would carefully watch the weather over the next week.
“If the weather in the next week becomes too sunny, it may damage the tender fruit owing to the excess water content. We hope that it only gets moderately warm,” Pasha said.
Unseasonal rains and hailstorms have wreaked havoc across Telangana, uprooting trees, destroying crops worth Rs 200 crore and killing at least 10 people, which many experts say are effects of climate change.