Heavy rains accompanying Cyclone Ockhi have affected crops in northern Maharashtra. In Nashik district, up to 50 per cent of the table grape crop in some areas has been damaged.

In the last seven years, Nashik and surrounding areas have suffered severe crop damage on four occasions due to hailstorms and untimely rains in winter.

Jagadish Holkar, former Chairman of the Indian Grape Processing Board, told BusinessLine that early assessment has shown that table grape varieties have suffered extensive damage. The extent of crop damage is between 20 and 50 per cent. Farmers who had pruned their grape vines before October 15 have suffered more damage. Pruning of vines helps flowering and fruit-setting, but untimely rains have affected this process, he said.

Rainwater, Holkar said, cracks grapes in the cluster. Even if one grape is cracked, fungus can build up. On the other hand, wine grapes have not been affected as those varieties can withstand such rain, which, on the contrary, helps produce better-quality grapes.

An officer of the State Agriculture Department said that among all the crops, table grapes have been the worst affected. Tomato, onions and green gram, too, suffered some damage but not to this extent.

A number of supporting businesses such as raisins and juice-making are dependent on table grapes. The whole business cycle will now get affected, the officer added.