Apple is an important cash crop since commencing in Bhutan in the early 1960s. It is now second to citrus in terms of production (8.032 MT in 2013). The most common varieties to be grown are Red Delicious, Royal Delicious and Golden Delicious.
About half the apples grown (54% in 2013) are exported, mostly to Bangladesh and India. Apples rejected for export are sold to fruit processing plants within Bhutan. Apples are also imported from or through India, mostly between January and August when local apples are not available.
Apple can be grown between 2,000 and 2,600 m asl, but most orchards are confined to Paro (52% of trees in 2005) and Thimphu (34%). Haa and Bumthang also have a significant number of orchards. However, many farmers in other parts of the country do grow apple for home consumption. In total there are over 3,000 individual apple growers in Bhutan. Apple orchards range from a few trees to large commercial orchards (> 250 trees). Orchard management is typically minimal.
Apples are prone to many different pest insects and diseases. It is not known whether varieties differ in their susceptibility to these.
There are at least nine insect species that attack different stages of fruit. Most can migrate unexpectedly into orchards as adults. Several insect species can also rapidly defoliate young apple trees. Several diseases also affect apple production, including premature leaf fall.
To maintain healthy, productive trees and fruit, producers should recognize what pests to look for, understand pest biology, use appropriate preventive measures, and apply timely controls when needed. Timely management is needed to prevent serious losses. Regular monitoring of orchards is therefore necessary throughout the growing season, and for seedlings and young orchards. Insecticides are sometimes needed, but their use should be minimized to prevent the development or resistance as well as the emergence of other pest problems through the suppression of beneficial natural enemies.
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