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SATI hopeful despite amended table grape crop forecast

Despite losses suffered in the Orange River region, the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) remains positive that other regions will come to the rescue to supply global markets

The Schoonbee Landgoed pioneered table grape production in Limpopo in 1994 with the first real commercial vineyards in the Loskop valley. Photo: Schoonbee Landgoed

The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) is confident that three Western Cape regions will make up for a loss in intake volumes caused by earlier rains in its Orange River region.

According to SATI’s second crop estimate for the 2020-2021-season, volumes were lowered to between 61.7 million and 67.1 million cartons equivalent to 4.5 kilograms. The Orange River region, based in the north of Mzansi, produces the country’s earliest grapes from November to mid-December.

SATI chief executive Willem Bestbier. Photo: Supplied

Usually, this is followed by grapes from the Berg River region with the nation’s grape season then concluding with supplies from the Hex River region where late-season varieties flourish.

The difference in soil and climate in the different regions enables growers to supply global markets annually from November to May.

The Orange River region is now expected to pack between 15 and 16 million cartons, said SATI in a media release.

“The mid- to late cultivars in the Orange River, namely Autumn Crisp, Arra 15, Sweet Globe, Scarlotta, Sugar Crisp, Crimson Seedless and Red Globe, will still be packed with great care and focus on quality.”

Berg River and Hex River to the rescue

The Berg River and Hex River regions will reportedly help make up for lost volumes in the Orange River region.

SATI chairman Anton Viljoen Jnr. Photo: Supplied

“In these regions the quality is excellent, and the weather forecast for the foreseeable future is equally promising,” said SATI chief executive Willem Bestbier.

“The earlier northern provinces region started about two weeks late, but is expected to reach the upper level of the first crop estimate, while they report good quality and berry sizes.”

Bestbier said SATI’s crop estimates are done in cooperation with growers and industry experts representing all production regions.

This forum is used by SATI to be more responsive to in-season developments and deviations. Meanwhile producers and exporters are confident that all market commitments will be serviced with a high-quality product.

Newly elected SATI chairman Anton Viljoen Jnr. said, “Producers will continue to focus on selecting, preparing and packing the best quality table grapes with great eating quality from South Africa to send to its discerning world markets.”

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