South Africa’s table grape export estimate has been increased again as the 2016/17 season moves into the final phase of harvesting.
The export crop is now likely to reach 65.4m cartons, breaking through the 65m-mark for the first time.
In issuing its third and final estimate of the season, table grape organisation SATI said that very favourable weather conditions, especially during harvesting, were contributing towards the good performance.
“SATI is happy that the local table grape industry is in a favourable position, especially after last year’s drought and hot weather,” the organisation said in a statement.
The industry body cautioned, however, that table grapes are grown ‘under the blue skies’ and it is therefore better to view this year’s harvest in the context of the 3.7 per cent average compounded growth rate over five years, which has been calculated to include this year’s crop.
“This year’s harvest does not show a huge increase but rather reflects a return to the normal growth pattern of the local table grape industry," the group added.
Conditions were much more favourable (than last year) and the best seen in many years with very little or no rain in most of the five production areas during the crucial harvesting period.
“While we had hot days, the nights were cooler, which aided colour development in red and black varieties," the organisation continued. "This contributed to a return to normal berry size and weight and even better quality and taste, which is a hallmark of South African table grapes.”
SATI noted that the bulk of the crop had already been harvested and exported. “SATI is expecting normal volumes for the remainder of the South African table grape harvesting season.”
Highlights of the season have included the Northern Provinces region completing harvesting and ending on 5.5m cartons. The Orange River region, one of the largest table grape production regions, ended on 20.5m cartons, and the Olifants River region is nearly done with packing and is expected to end with about 4m cartons.
In the Berg River region, harvesting will continue for a few more weeks while the region is expected to end on about 14.9m cartons. The latest region, Hex River Valley, is still experiencing good weather, and is expected to end on about 20.5m cartons.