South African apple and pear sources say they are still on track for a positive season despite recent inclement weather

A brief cold spell after the recent storms and wind in South Africa’s Western Cape region has boosted expectations for an excellent season, with the weather apparently doing wonders for colour development in red and pink apple varieties.

Red apples in rain South Africa

Leading apple and pear exporter TruCape Marketing said that while there had been some damage, the subsequent cold weather contributed to excellent colouring.

“Although difficult to quantify, it is estimated that only about 3 per cent to 4 per cent of Tru-Cape’s remaining apple crop was damaged or blown off during the gale-forced winds on April 6 and 7,” said managing director Roelf Pienaar.

“The damage is limited to specific areas or farms and, fortunately, rather insignificant in the greater picture for the Ceres and EGVV (Elgin, Grabouw, Villiersdorp, and Vyeboom) regions.”

Apple varieties such as Pink Lady, Rosy Glow, Granny Smith, and Sundowner are currently being harvested, or are yet to be picked.

“The colder weather made an enormous difference in colour development,” said Calla du Toit, Tru-Cape’s procurement manager.

“In the orchards with the most wind damage, we lost about 4 per cent of the apples, but the improvement in colour is much more valuable than what we lost due to the wind. The fruit is currently looking beautiful.”

Hennie du Toit, CEO of Dutoit Group in Ceres, said his company was pleased with the season so far. “We have our challenges, but it is still a good season,” he confirmed

The latest Hortgro prediction is that South Africa will export some 46.5m cartons of apples this season. This is 7 per cent higher than last year’s 44.4m cartons.

The expected pear harvest of 19.1m cartons will exceed last year export volume by 3 per cent.