After a fairly difficult production season in 2016/17, table grape growers in Namibia’s Aussenkehr regions are confident that they will resume their growth in export volumes this year.
The new export season will get on track this weekend with the first containers being shipped from Cape Town. Most growers and exporters at Aussenkehr said they would be harvesting and packing at full pace and that shipments would increase from next weekend.
Capespan Namibia’s executive director Kobus Bothma said he was pleased with the development of the crop and that the region would have a bumper crop this year.
“We will start with our Flame and Early Sweet from this weekend and conditions have been great for producing grapes of excellent eating quality," he explained. "Thereafter we will move to one of our newer varieties, Sweet Celebration, and other new varieties such as Melody and Arra 15.”
Bothma confirmed that the provisional export forecast placed the total Namibian crop at 6.2m cartons.
“Under fairly difficult conditions last season the region shipped 4.8m cartons and we are pleased that we are returning to the previous growth path this year," he noted.
It has been predicted for some time that Namibia will reach 10m cartons by 2020, a forecast eyed with some concern by growers in South Africa’s early regions, which are also seeing a period of rapid growth.
Namibia’s packing season ends early in January and most of their grapes arrive in the market before the end of the month.
Leon de Kock of Grape Alliance said his company was expected to ship 2.2m cartons from Namibia this year. “We are pleased with the development of all cultivars, but hope to see more of Starlight, a delightful early red seedless grape," he said. "We are also pleased with the development of Sugraone."
Andre Vermaak, managing director of Silverlands Vineyards, a member of the Silverstreet Investment Group, said his company would also show growth in volumes this year.
He previously told Eurofruit that Silverlands Vineyards was engaged in a redevelopment process with some very exciting new grape cultivars that were planted last year.
“They include Jack Salute, Cotton Candy and Candy Heart from the IFG range and Sweety from the Arra range," Vermaak had explained. "All these varieties will bring exciting new tastes and eating experiences to our grape basket from Namibia.”
Namibian growers will be heartened by the news that the early Peruvian crop will be lower this year, which promises a strong market during the pre-Christmas period.