For a long time now, apples have been a cash crop in Kashmir. However, the current bumper cherry harvest has caused fruit growers to think beyond apples. Apple growers in Kashmir are quite happy to see the bumper cherry crop in their apple orchards, at a time when apple harvesting is still four months away. In Kashmir, apple growers plant cherry, apricot and plum trees in their orchards to produce multiple fruit varieties.
Apart from Shopian, the places which produce cherry in large quantities are Tangmarg, Baramulla in north Kashmir and Srinagar, Ganderbal in central Kashmir.
There are eight cherry varieties grown in Kashmir: Makhmali, Siya, Mishri, Jaddi, Italy, Dabal, Vishkan and Stela. Four among the eight varieties -Mishri, Jaddi, Makhmali, and Dabal - have good demand in the market. Mishri is considered sweeter than other varieties. The Mishri variety, also known for its health benefits, was exported to Dubai last year.
According to official figures, the annual production of the stone fruit is around 12,000 tons, making J&K largest cherry producer of India.