South Africa’s late table grape region in the Hex River Valley is expected to conclude its harvest during the next two weeks
Growers in South Africa’s late table grape growing region, the Hex River Valley, are due to wind up their harvest over the next ten days.
Indications from the region are that the export volume could be up to 20 per cent lower than last year.
For growers in the Hex River Valley it has not been an easy season, as for table grape producers in other parts of the country.
SATI had previously predicted that overall volumes would be approximately 18.2 per cent lower than figures recorded in the 2021/22 season, and 11.4 per cent lower than the original estimate.
A drop of 18 per cent in volumes in the Hex River Valley would bring the crop there down from around 24m cartons in the previous season to under 20m cartons.
It is not certain how the latest predictions from the Hex River Valley could affect the overall outcome of the South African season. It will however impact late season shipments of AutumnCrisp and Crimson Seedless.
“Where vineyards are not under netting or covered, growers will be substantially affected,” said one grower.
Last year South Africa exported around 77m cartons, but this record volume did not bring the same result in terms of payments back to growers.
Towards the end of last year, SATI indicated that the crop would be lower as growers focused on quality and lower yields to ensure that they export only the best fruit.
It seems as if climatic conditions have played the biggest part this year, with early season growers suffering crop reductions while rain in the Western Cape also reduced prospects for what would still have been an excellent harvest.
Disruption to logistics because of strong winds at the port of Cape Town has added to delays in shipments and is also affecting stonefruit and apple and pear growers.
Logistics companies confirmed this week that there was a considerable backlog of fruit that needs to be cleared through the port.
April and May will see the peak of apple and pear shipments, while the citrus export season is also due to gather steam from the beginning of April.
The first avocado shipments also left Cape Town earlier this month and increased volumes, which are now being shipped, will also be affected by delays in Cape Town.
Logistics service providers have said that in the case of more sensitive fruit, older volumes need to be cleared through the port first.
Better news for South African grape growers is that reports indicate markets in Europe and the UK are benefitting from lower supply, with fruit clearing quickly and price levels strong.
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