Jath taluka, near the Karnataka-Maharashtra border, experiences mostly sunny weather with summer temperatures reaching up to 43 degrees Celsius.
The area receives limited rainfall, only 30 days a year, averaging 560 mm.
In such adverse conditions, Maharashtra’s Kakasaheb Sawant was able to grow apples! People visiting his farm consider this no less than a miracle.
In early 2020, Sawant bought 150 saplings of HRMN-99 apples — an all-terrain apple variety that was first conceived by Himachal farmer Hariman Sharma.
Sharma claims that this apple variety does not require chilling hours (0–7 degrees Celsius) for flowering and fruit-setting, and can be grown even in regions with temperatures of 40-45 degrees Celsius.
He says, while conventional apple trees could develop improper colour and fungal spots on their surface in excessive rain or fog, the new variety is resistant to scab disease.
“Earlier, no one would have believed that apples would grow in the plains and in warm temperatures,” he adds.
The variety is ready to harvest in early June after three years of transplanting, and the average yield from a seven-year-old plant is one quintal, he says.
With the sale of nine lakh saplings so far, these apples are currently being grown in 27 Indian states and have found buyers in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, South Africa, Zambia, and Germany.
For his innovation HRMN-99, Sharma was awarded the Plant Breeders’ Right.
The story was originally written by Hiren Kumar Bose.