KOCHI: Usually, nearly 1,000 tonnes of idichakka (tender jackfruit) go out of the country to foreign markets every day from Kerala, during peak seasons which span between February, March and April every year. However, this year the fruit production in the state is likely to witness a dip as the flowering has not taken place in most of the fruit-bearing trees.
Not only jackfruit, but other fruits like mango and spices like nutmegs and crops like cashew are also witnessing a change in flowering season, which usually begins in November every year. The shift in flowering pattern, according to experts, is a clear indication of the impact of climate change in Kerala.“The usual jackfruit season of Kerala begins in November. We will get fully grown jackfruits by December 15. This year, it went up to February. Instead of Christmas, we will be able to get fully grown jackfruit by Valentine’s Day only,” said James Joseph, founder of Jackfruit365.
He said central Kerala produces top-quality jackfruits in the state. “The yield pattern of the state varies region-wise. Usually, the season begins in southern parts of the state initially. This year, even at Parassala, the flowering was delayed by two-months and began only in November 2019,” he said. Meanwhile, P Indiradevi, director of Research, Kerala Agricultural University, said it is almost same in the case of other fruit-bearing trees also.
“In the previous season, we had seen that most of the fruit-bearing trees like mango had flowered to their full capacity. However, soon after the harvest season, the state witnessed another flood in August 2019. There is a chance for an imbalance in the system, owing to the climatic change. Moreover, the trees require time for energy build-up and resources. The temperature has not decreased considerably in many areas. That stress factor is there as far as trees are concerned. All these elements, coupled together might have resulted in the change in the flowering pattern of these trees,” she said.
Experts said the delay in flowering may not affect the yield if the flowers, which bloom late bear fruits. They also said a clear picture on yield can only be drawn up only after the end of the harvest season. “It is something which requires scientific analysis. However, we can see the changes in climate pattern. For instance, Kerala had an extended rainfall till November. The state also witnessed two devastating floods in consecutive years- 2018 and 2019.
These floods happened during the extended monsoon season. The existing climate cycle was also broken,” said M L Jyothi, professor, Kerala Agricultural University.“Since tree crops and their flowering and fruiting are complicated processes, it will take some time to find out scientific solutions for the change in flowering season. We need to assess the impact of climate change on fruit-bearing plants. It will take some time,” she said.