Apple Plucking at the Apple Orchard in Chakroth Village, Kotkhai Tehsil
Welcome to the Apple factory. Not Apple Inc though. The kinda Apples which keep the Doctor away.
Technology is however, slowly changing the way Apples are grown as well as packaged and transported. Not at the same level as your Apple IPhone or IPad but still a big step over how things were done in the past.
Presenting a video I shot last month and kinda mixed up to show how the Apples move from the Trees to being packed in the boxes for your eating pleasure. And kinda trying to explain the process in a couple of sentences so that you can relate it with what goes on in the Video.
The plucking starts in August beginning once the Apples are considered right for plucking (Apples are ripe for plucking at different areas at different times due to differences in the altitude and temperature) . The colder a place is the later the Apples ripen as they need a minimum number of sunny days.
The Plucking teams are organised and most made up of mostly Nepalese in this area and they get to work and start the plucking. They climb up on the trees and fill the Apples in fabric bags around their necks. And then these fabric bags are emptied into crates depending on the Apple variety. In the video you see the Royal and the Richard variety.
The plucked Apples are collected in crates or Kiltas, the wooden ones which were used earlier and stacked, ready to be taken to the nearest road-head. They are carried on the back to the road-head where in they are loaded into the Pick Up trucks to be sent to the Processing facility. Sometimes they are sent by the pulley/ trolley systems called Spans in case the Roads are faraway. While growing up there was no motor able Road going to the Upper Orchard and we had to climb a good 2 to 3 hours to get to the Orchard. Even we had a span system to send the Apples down. Some of the picker guys were crazy enough to use the spans to go down themselves as well. These small Roads are a boon for the Locals. The economy has just grown at a very rapid rate thanks to the Roads and connectivity.
This facility is a newly set up one where in the Apples are graded and polished first. The they are packed ready to be sent to their destinations. Earlier even all this was done manually where in individuals would first grade the Apples. Grading is the process of segregating the Apples based on their size. After that they were polished to give them a shine. The polishing involves getting cleaned on plastic fiber rollers and rollers with horse hair which gives them the shine. There are no polishes or waxes involved in this process. And finally crated and packed in corrugated boxes, ready to hit the market.
As you can see technology is changing the Apple business and as a result the wealth has grown at a very rapid rate. The fact that Apples fetch a very good rate in the Market has really helped. And this particular area gets the first ripe Apples in the area and that helps too.
Also more and more growers are now outsourcing stuff to facilities like these which send their own pick up trucks to pick Apples from the closest kacha road-head and after processing you can have them delivered to any collection point in their area. This could be the local mandi or in a big truck headed down to the Plains. And now Apple traders from as far as Bengaluru turn up right at the Processing facility or the Orchard and buy the Apples right there. Life has become easier for the Apple people.
And lastly the most important part, at no pint is any wax or any artificial chemicals used during the plucking and the packing
process unlike a lot of waxed up apples that you see in the market.
Good old Himalayan Apples. Buy them and support the Himalayan Apple Growers
Himalayan Apples Zindabad !
An Apple Tree in full bloom with the Reds and the Greens at the Family Orchards
The Plucking Season is on and here you see an Apple tree on which two different varieties are growing. A Red one and a Green one. Infact a single tree can grow as many varieties as long as you have a master Graftsman.
For those interested giving a link to a video showing Apple plucking on at the Orchards. This Video was shot by me some days back at the Family Apple Orchards in Chakrot in the Kotkhai Kotgarh Apple belt of Himachal Pradesh
Besides the Apples it also has Cherry, Peach, Plum, Pears and Almond Trees. There is also some Strawberry plantation. Besides the Trees as you can see in the Video there are also Vegetables being grown like Cabbages, Beans, Pumpkins and other assorted vegetables.
The Apples here get the first mover advantage as the first Apples to hit the Indian market come from this area. At around 6000 to 6200 feet above the sea level makes it the perfect place for growing Apples.
The plucking is mostly done by hand by hired labor which in most cases is Nepali. The Apples are then taken to the sorting center (Ill post a video of that as well later) where they are sorted, polished and packed to be sent all over the country.