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Fred Meintjes


Drought hits RSA topfruit estimate

The South African apple and pear export crop estimate is reduced as the impact of the drought begins to bite

Drought hits RSA topfruit estimate

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Hortgro has announced that the continued drought conditions experienced in the major topfruit production areas in South Africa have impacted negatively on export volumes, with the body changing its estimate as a result.

“Despite challenging climatic conditions, the initial pomefruit crop estimate anticipated a 5 per cent growth in export volumes - mainly due to new orchards coming into production," said Hortgro in a statement. "However as the harvesting season progressed the industry realised that the anticipated volumes are not going to materialise as fruit size in general and pack-out of fruit on tree were affected by a combination of drought and heatwave conditions."

Hortgro also said a tough season in terms of grower returns and profitability is anticipated as a result of the strengthening of the South African rand against the major currencies in combination with the decrease in export volumes.

Current volumes in storage combined with exports to date led to the downward adjustment for pomefruit export cartons. The newly calculated volumes indicates a decrease of between -6 per cent to -9 per cent compared to the previous season.

South Africa is now expected to ship 31m cartons of apples compared to last year’s 34.06m cartons. Pear volumes will decline by 6 per cent, from 17.77m cartons last year to 16.8m. Combined apple and pear exports are expected to decline from 51.8m cartons last year to 47.79m cartons.

Hortgro says a decrease in export volumes of Golden Delicious (-11 per cent), Granny Smith (-20 per cent), Pink Lady (-29 per cent) and Fuji (-16 per cent) can directly be attributed to weather conditions impacting on colour development, fruit size and pack-outs

For pears, the decrease in export volumes of Williams Bon Chretien (-5 per cent) is due to smaller fruit size, good demand from the canning industry and a lack in demand from the Northern Hemisphere importing countries.

Packhams Triumph (-4 per cent), Abate Fetel (-14 per cent) and Vermont Beauty (-19 per cent) are also down compared to last year. On the contrary export volumes of Forelle are in line with the previous season. 

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