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All you want to know about Apple in India

Apple (Malus pumila) is commercially the most important temperate fruit and is fourth among the most widely produced fruits in the world after banana, orange and grape. China is the largest apple producing country in the world. 

The main objective of this report is to present a bankable one-acre model for high quality commercial cultivation of the crop. 

 3.1 Origin

Apples originated in the Middle East more than 4000 years ago. Spreading across Europe to France, the fruit arrived in England at around the time of the Norman conquest in 1066. 

3.2 Area & Production

The area under apple cultivation in India increased by 24% from 1.95 lakh ha. in 1991-92 to 2.42 lakh ha. in 2001-02 although production increased by less than  1% (i.e. from 11 to 12 lakh tones). It is mostly grown in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.(Vide Table-1)

J&K has remained the leading apple producer accounting for 60% of the total production in the country. In HP also, apple is the most important crop accounting for about 90% of the total horticultural production.  These two States accounted for 76% of the area and 94% of the production of the crop in the country in 2001-02 (vide Table-I).

Table 1 : State-wise Area, Production & Productivity of
Apple during 2001-02

Area (‘000 Ha.)
Production (‘000 MT)
Productivity (MT/Ha.)
Jammu & Kashmir
Himachal Pradesh
Arunachal Pradesh
All India
Source : Database of National Horticulture Board, Ministry of Agriculture , 

Govt. of India.

3.3 Economic Importance: Apples are mostly consumed fresh but a small part of the production is processed in to  juices, jellies, canned slices and other items.


4.1 Demand and Supply patterns: India’s share in the total world apple production is merely 2.05 per cent.  Only around 1.6% of the country’s production gets exported. 

4.2 Import/Export trends: The trend in export of apple from India during the period 1999-2000 to 2001-02 is given in Graph 3.

Table-2 : Country-wise export of  apple from India during 2001-02.

(Rs.  in lakhs)
Sri Lanka
Saudi Arabia
 Source : APEDA, New Delhi

4.3 Analysis and Future Strategy: An agri-export zone has been established in Himachal Pradesh covering the districts of Shimla, Siramour, Kullu, Mandi, Chamba and Kinnaur considering the vast potential for increasing exports. Initial targets are for exporting apples to neighbouring countries as well as to west Asia and to the south-east Asian countries. With increase in production of apples in the State, the State government is taking effective steps for its marketing besides providing packing material, transportation, ensuring adequate procurement of apples under Market Intervention Scheme, so that the growers get remunerative prices in the markets. 

Arunachal Pradesh is one of the ideal locations for apple cultivation. If high yielding varieties of apple are introduced in the state it can make a big headway by exporting the produce to Bangladesh which presently depends on Bhutan besides meeting the internal demand of the northeastern markets. 

Efforts are being made by the NHB and the State Govts. for imparting modern technologies to the growers in apple producing states. 


5.1 Agro-climatic requirements: Apple can be grown at altitudes 1,500-2,700 m. above m.s.l. in the Himalayan range which experience 1,000-1,500 hours of chilling (the no. of hours during which temperature remains at or below 70 C during the winter season). The temperature during the growing season is around 21-240 C. For optimum growth and fruiting, apple trees need 100-125 cm. of annual rainfall, evenly distributed during the growing season. Excessive rains and fog near the fruit maturity period result in poor fruit quality with improper colour development and fungal spots on its surface. Areas exposed to high velocity of winds are not desirable for apple cultivation.

Loamy soils, rich in organic matter with pH 5.5 to 6.5 and having proper drainage and aeration are suitable for cultivation.

5.2 Growing and Potential Belts: Dry temperate areas are suitable for apple cultivation. The fruits produced in these areas are of high quality with high sugar content and long shelf life. 

The state-wise growing belts are given in the following :

Growing belts
Jammu & Kashmir
Srinagar, Budgam, Pulwama, Anatnag, Baramullah, Kupwara
Himachal Pradesh
Shimla, Kullu, Sirmour, Mandi, Chamba, Kinnaur
Almora, Pithoragarh, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Dehradun, Nainital
Arunachal Pradesh
Tawang, West Kanneng, Lower Subansiri

5.3 Varieties Cultivated: Important varieties cultivated in different states of India are given below :


Clonal rootstocks
M 9, M 26, M7, MM 106, MM 11
Scab resistant
Prima, Priscilla, Sir Prize, Jonafree, Florina, Macfree, Nova Easy Grow, Coop 12, Coop 13 (Redfree), Nova Mac, Liberty, Freedom, Firdous, Shireen
Lal Ambri (Red Delicious x Ambri), Sunehari (Ambri x Golden Delicious), Chaubattia Princess, Chaubattia Anupam (Early Shanburry x Red Delicious), Ambred (Red Delicious x Ambri), Ambrich (Richared x Ambri), Ambroyal (Starking Delicious x Ambri)
Low Chilling
Michal, Schlomit, Anna, Tamma, Vered, Neomi, Tropical Beauty, Parlin’s Beauty
Tydeman’s Early, Red Gold, Golden Delicious, Mc Intosh, Lord Lambourne, Winter Banana, Granny Smith, Starkspur Golden, Golden Spur

5.4 Land Preparation: For establishment of  new apple orchard, proper layout of the proposed area is very essential.

5.5 Planting

5.5.1 Planting Material: The budding and tongue grafting methods are commonly used for propagation of apple. The planting material should be purchased only from the registered nurseries and proper care should be taken during transportation of the same.

5.5.2 Planting season: Planting is usually done in the month of January and February.

5.5.3 Spacing: The average number of plants in an area of one ha. can range between 200 to 1250. Four different categories of planting density are followed viz. low (less than 250 plants/ha.), moderate (250-500 plants/ha.), high (500-1250 plants/ha.) and ultra high density (more than 1250 plants /ha.). The combination of rootstock and scion variety determines the plant spacing and planting density/unit area.

5.5.4 Planting Method: Square or hexagonal system of planting is followed in the valleys whereas contour method is usually followed on the slopes. Plantation of pollinator species in between the main species is essential for proper fruit setting. For establishment of an orchard having Royal Delicious variety, plantation of Red Delicious and Golden Delicious as pollinators is recommended by the Horticulture Department. In the month of October-November, pits of size 1x1x1 m. are prepared for planting. In each pit, 30-40 kg. of FYM, 500 g. of Single super phosphate and 50 g. of Malathion dust are added after mixing properly. After about a month the planting is done. One irrigation should be provided immediately after planting.

5.6 Nutrition: Farmyard manure @ 10 kg./ year age of tree is applied along with other fertilizers. The ratio of N, P and K which is applied in an orchard of optimal fertility is 70:35:70 g./year (age of the tree). After 10 years of age, the dose is stabilized at 700:350:700 g. of N, P and K /year. The standard fertilizer dose of N, P and K in an “off” year (when the crop load is low) is 500 g., 250g. and 400 g. respectively. On some trees deficiency of zinc, boron, manganese and calcium may be observed which is corrected with the application of appropriate chemicals through foliage spray. 

5.7 Irrigation: The water requirement of apple is 114 cm. per annum which can be scheduled in 15-20 irrigations. In summer, irrigation is provided at an interval of 7-10 days while in winter it is given at an interval of 3-4 weeks. At least 8 irrigations are to be provided during critical period (April-August) i.e. main requirement after fruit set.

5.8 Training  & pruning: Timely pruning and training operation is essential for proper growth and good productivity. The plants are trained according to growth habit and vigour of the rootstocks. The standard trees are trained on modified central leader system so that plants receive proper light.  This improves fruit colour and also minimises the effect of heavy snowfall and hail.  Spindle bush system is suitable for high density planting under mid hill conditions.

Pruning is essential to maintain a proper balance between vegetative growth and spur development. Proper pruning of weak and undesirable branches/twigs is necessary after six years of plantation.

5.9 Intercultural Operations: Application of glyphosate @ 800 ml./ha. or Gammaxone /Paraquat (0.5% ) as post emergence herbicide suppresses weed growth for 4-5 months.

5.10 Mulching: Mulching with hay or black alkathene is found to be effective in controlling the weeds in cool climates and also in conserving moisture.  Use of dry grass or oak leaves has also been found to be effective in conserving soil moisture.

5.11 Inter-cropping: Green manuring crops viz. sunflower and bean may be cultivated in the early years of plantation in order to improve soil texture and nutrient status of soil.

5.12 Growth regulators: Use of growth hormones is essential for good flowering and proper colouration in fruits. Heavy bearing in apple usually results in small-sized, poor quality fruits and sets in alternate bearing cycle. Fruit thinning is essential in pollinizing varieties for regulating adequate cross-pollination. Chemicals like carbaryl or Sevin @ 750-1000 ppm. or NAA @ 10-20 ppm. at petal fall may be applied for the purpose. 

5.13 Plant Protection Measures

5.13.1 Insect Pests: The insect pests mostly observed are San Jose Scale (Quadraspidiotus perniciosus), white scale (Pseudoulacaspis sp.), wooly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum), blossom thrips (Thrips rhopalantennalis) etc. Planting of resistant rootstocks, suitable intercultural operations and spraying with chloropyriphos, fenitrothion, carbaryl etc. have been found to be effective in controlling the pests.

5.13.2 Diseases: The main diseases reported are collar rot (Phytophthora cactorum), apple scab (Venturia inaequalis), sclerotius blight (Sclerotium rolfsii), crown gall (Agrobacterium tumefaciens), cankers, die-back diseases etc. Plants resistant to the diseases should be used for cultivation. The infected plant parts need to be destroyed. Application of copper oxychloride, carbendazim, mancozeb and other fungicides have been found to be effective in controlling the diseases.

5.13.3 Disorders: In apple, there are three distinct fruit drops, i) early drop resulting from unpollinated or unfertilized blossoms, ii) June drop (due to moisture stress and fruit competition) and iii) Pre-harvest drop. Pre-harvest drop can be controlled by spraying NAA @ 10 ppm. (1 ml. of Planofix dissolved in 4.5 l. of water) about a week before the expected drop.

5.14 Harvesting and Yield: The orchard start bearing from eighth year and the economic life of an apple tree exceeds 30 years. From eighth to seventeenth year, productivity goes on increasing and thereafter remains constant upto 30 years. The level of productivity varies form elevation to elevation. Production stage extends upto even forty years depending upon agro-climatic condition. Apple being a climacteric fruit, the maturity period does not coincide with ripening. The fruits are usually harvested before they are fully ripe.

The average yield of different apple varieties in the state of Uttaranchal is very low (5-6 tonnes/ha.) as compared to that in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir which is around 11-13 tonnes/ha. (vide Table 1).


6.1 Pre-cooling: The fruits are placed in a cool and ventilated place to remove field heat before packing. Fruit surface must be free from moisture before grading, wrapping or packing in cartons.

6.2 Grading: Grading of apples is done according to fruit size and fruit appearance or quality. On the basis of fruit size, apples are graded manually in 6 grades. On the basis of fruit colour, shape, quality and appearance, apple fruits can be graded in three or more quality grades. These grades are designated as AAA, AA and A; A,B,C; or extra fancy, fancy class I and fancy class II.

6.3 Storage: Apples have a long storage life compared to other fruits and can be stored for a period of 4-8 months after harvesting. The fruits can be kept in cold storage at a temperature of about – 1.10 to 00 C and 85-90% relative humidity.

6.4 Packing: Apples are usually packed in wooden boxes having the capacity to accommodate about 10 or 20 kg. fruits. Corrugated fibre board cartons are also used for packing.

6.5 Transportation: Road transport by trucks is the most popular mode of transport due to easy approach from orchards to the market.

6.6 Marketing: Marketing of the produce is mainly controlled by intermediaries like wholesalers and commission agents.  During years of good production, the wholesale prices in producing areas slip down to un-remunerative levels.


Major sources for technology are:

(i) Hill Campus, Ranichouri, G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Tehri Garhwal, Uttaranchal.
(ii) Department of Horticulture and Food Processing, Udhyan Bhawan, Chaubatia, Ranikhet, Almora-263651, Uttaranchal.


8.1  High quality commercial cultivation of crop by using high quality planting material and drip irrigation leads to multiple benefits viz.

· Synchronized  growth, flowering and harvesting;
· Reduction in variation of off-type and non-fruit plants;
· Improved fruit quality;

8.2  Costs & Returns: A one acre plantation of the crop is a highly viable proposition.  The cost components of such a model along with the basis for costing are exhibited in Annexures I & II.   A summary is given in the figure below.  The project cost works out to Rs. 1.50 lakhs.

Project Cost: (Unit – One Acre)  (Amount in Rs.)

Sl. No.
Proposed Expenditure
Cultivation Expenses

Cost of planting material 

Manures & fertilizers 

Insecticides & pesticides

Land Preparation

Others, if any, (Power)

Sub Total


SIP & Electrical Installation

Others, if any 

Sub Total
Cost of Drip/Sprinkler

Store & Pump House

Labour room

Agriculture Equipments

Others, if any, please specify

Sub Total
Land Development

Soil leveling



Others, if any, please specify

Sub Total
Land, if newly purchased (Please indicate the year)*

Grand Total

      *Cost of newly purchased land will be limited to one-tenth of the total project cost

8.3  The major components of the model are:
  • Land Development:  (Rs. 4.0 thousand):  This is the labour cost of shaping and dressing the land site as well as layout of the orchard.
  • Fencing (Rs. 20.0 thousand):  It is necessary to guard the orchard by barbed wire fencing to safeguard the valuable produce from animals and prevent poaching.  This is part cost of fencing in the first year.
  • Irrigation Infra-structure (Rs. 50.0 thousand):  For effective working with drip irrigation system, it is necessary to install a bore well with diesel/electric pumpset and motor. This is part cost of irrigation infrastructure.
  • Drip Irrigation & Fertigation System (Rs. 20.0 thousand):  This is average cost of one acre drip system for apple inclusive of the cost of fertigation equipment.  The actual cost will vary depending on location, plant population and plot geometry.
  • Equipment/Implements (Rs. 10.0 thousand):  For investment on improved manually operated essential implements a provision of another Rs. 10 thousand is included.
  • Building and Storage (Rs. 25.0 thousand):  A one acre orchard would require minimally a labour shed and a store-cum grading/packing room & pump house.
  • Cost of Cultivation (Rs. 21.0 thousand):  Land preparation and planting operations will involve 60 days of manual labour, the cost of which will come to Rs. 4.20 thousand.  The cost of planting material (250 plants per acre at 4 x 4 m) works out to Rs. 2.5 thousand i.e. 250 plants @ Rs. 10.0 per plant.
8.4 Labour cost has been put at an average of Rs. 70 per man-day.  The actual cost will vary from location to location depending upon minimum wage levels or prevailing wage levels for skilled and unskilled labour. 

Inter-cropping: Since the orchard would be start giving yield from 8th year onwards, it is proposed to take up inter-cropping particularly off season vegetables which would cost RS. 10000/- per acre and would yield on average 5 tonnes/acre.

8.5 Recurring Production Cost: Recurring production costs are exhibited in Annexure III.  The main components are planting material, land preparation, inputs application (FYM, fertilizers, micro-nutrients liming material, plant protection chemicals etc.), power and labour on application of inputs, inter-cultural and other farm operations.

8.6 Besides, provision is included for labour for harvesting and packing/transportation charges for the produce to the nearest secondary market.  The total production cost for a one acre orchard works out to Rs. 174.05 thousand during the first seven years.  In the post-operative period i.e. from 8th year onward, the annual recurring cost ranges from Rs.22.00 thousand to Rs.25.30 thousand, at which level it stabilizes.
8.7 Returns from the Project:  The yield from the plantation is obtained from eighth year onwards.  The yield goes up from 3 tonnes per acre to 6 tonnes per acre.   Valued at Rs. 11000 per tonne, the return goes up from Rs. 33 thousand to Rs. 66 thousand (Vide Annexure-III).

Project Financing

8.8. Balance Sheet: The projected balance sheet of the model is given at Annexure IV.  There would be three sources of financing the project as below:

         Source                                Rs. Thousand

        Farmer’s share                    75.0                                                               
        Term loan                            45.0
        Subsidy                               30.0
        Total                                    150.0                                                                                                                             

8.9. Profit & Loss Account: The cash flow statement may be seen in Annexure V.   Annexure VI projects the profit and loss account of the model.  Gross profit goes up from Rs. 11.0 thousand in year 8 to Rs. 40.7 thousand in year eleven.

8.10. Repayment of Term Loan:   The term loan will be repaid in eleven 6 monthly installments with a moratorium of 90 months.  The rate of interest would have to be negotiated with the financing bank. It has been put at 12% in the model (vide Annexures VII A & B).

8.11. Annexure VIII gives depreciation calculations.

Project Viability:

8.12. IRR/BCR:  The viability of the project is assessed in Annexure IX.  The IRR works out to 23 and the BCR to 1.6.

8.13. The Debt Service coverage ratio calculations are presented in Annexure X.  The average DSCR works out to 3.09. 

8.14. Payback Period:  On the basis of costs and returns of the model, the pay back period is estimated at 6.6 years (vide Annexure XI). 

8.15. Break-even Point:  The break even point will be reached in the 3rd year.  At this point fixed cost would work out to 63.1% of gross sales (vide Annexure XII). 

Source: Apple