Crop estimates for South Africa’s table grapes appear to be back on track with intake volumes expected to increase to between 65,3 million and 69,8 million cartons. This, according to the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) who released their third crop estimate for the current season.
This is great news, considering the industry’s delayed take-off at the start of the season and further delays brought on by disruptive rains in the Northern Cape.
According to SATI CEO, Willem Bestbier, their optimism is owed to very good quality and harvest conditions, enough water availability after last winter’s rainfall, large berry sizes and the overall good quality of grapes.
“The northern provinces are on track to reach higher intake volumes due to favourable summer weather towards the end of the season,” he states.
Meanwhile, producers in the Orange River table grape production region were disrupted and delayed at the start of January, when heavy rains fell in the Northern Cape.
Adding to their strain was the start of the season being about 14 days late, which meant that about 30% of the crop still needed to be packed.
However, Bestbier states, “The last few producers in the Orange River region are busy concluding the season, and the effect of the rain at the beginning of the year had less of an impact on the later cultivars than initially estimated.”
He adds that producers also took great care in harvesting and sorting grapes during packing, which contributed to the eventual good volumes.
Meanwhile the three Western Cape-based regions, Olifants, Hex River and Berg River, continue to expect healthy volumes as grapes are ripening well and packing picks up pace.
These regions have been experiencing excellent ripening and early harvesting conditions. According to SATI the crops are very promising, both from a volume and quality perspective.
Warren Bam, SATI board member and table grape farmer in the Berg River region says, “If the weather is like it is now and it doesn’t rain, then it looks like the harvest will be good.
“We are still a bit under pressure because of the season starting late, but fortunately we are slowly getting back on track.”