The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has said that the country’s table grape harvest is stabilising despite the effect of the drought in the Cape region, with SATI making only minor adjustments in its fourth forecast of the season.
The updated forecast shows that the worst case scenario predicted is now a better than during third forecast.
“The harvest is resilient with volumes stabilising despite the worst drought in decades,” said the SATI statement.
The fourth crop estimate for the 2017/18 table grape season shows the upper and lower limits respectively about 16.8 per cent and 12.2 per cent lower than the previous record 2016/2017 season.
The new estimate ranges between 56.2m cartons and 59.3m cartons, reflecting an unchanged upper limit and a slight increase in the lower limit.
The Northern Provinces region, which is nearly at the end of its harvest has not suffered from water shortages, has done better than predicted.
The Orange River is also just about at the end of the harvest and could be around 2.5m cartons down on last year. “The Orange River region, which also has enough water, has done reasonably well despite some challenges with smaller berries and lower bunch weights,” said SATI.
SATI outlined that the three regions hardest hit by the drought and heat were the Olifants, Berg and Hex River Valleys. “The impact of the drought and heat varies between producers who are seeing a reduction of between 10 per cent and 30 per cent in their volumes compared to last season.”
SATI said normal export volumes will continue for at least the next four weeks. “However, a shorter tail-end of the harvest is expected due to the cut in water allocations and possible further effect of the ongoing drought.”