South African citrus production is expected to boom during the 2008/09 season with volumes of oranges, lemons and grapefruit all increasing, according to a new report by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Orange production for the 2008/09 season will increase 9.7 per cent on the previous year to hit 1.55m tonnes, the USDA said, as a result of "huge" Navel and Valencia crops. However, the quality of early navels could be affected by damage suffered from hailstorms in the south of the country.
The USDA pegged lemon production for the season at 200,550 tonnes, a 2.6 per cent jump on last year's production of 195,000 tonnes, as a result of an increase in harvested area.
Grapefruit volumes are forecast to increase to 420,000 tonnes during 2008/09, the report said, up from 387,000 tonnes due to the alternate bearing of the trees.
This year (2007/08), exported volumes of citrus totalled 1.28m tonnes (up to week 41) according to data compiled by the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) – 3.4 per cent ahead of the previous year. This, the USDA said, reflected an increase in international demands as a result of lower total production.
Orange exports are pegged at 1.07m tonnes for 2008/09, mainly going to Northern Europe, the Middle East, the UK, Russia and the Mediterranean, the USDA said. Lemon exports are forecast to hit 110,000 tonnes during the season, with Grapefruit exports totalling 220,000 tonne and heading mostly to northern Europe and the Far East.