South Africa apple harvesting

South Africa is likely to export a record volume of apples and pears this season if present favourable conditions continue.

The apple export crop is expected to rise by 6 per cent to 47.47m cartons and the pear crop by 8 per cent to 19.83m cartons.

In total the apple and pear export volume is expected to reach 67.3m cartons, 32 per cent higher than the 2019 crop. Apples are expected to represent 70 per cent of the pomefruit export crop.

Jacques du Preez of industry body Hortgro said the industry was for a promising apple and pear harvest this year.

“The 2022 harvest is in full swing and growers are looking forward to a good harvest,” he confirmed. “Much needed rain and adequate chill units during last winter have ensured that growers have enough irrigation water at their disposal, which linked to a good fruit set and favourable weather conditions to date promises a good crop and fruit quality.”

However, he pointed out that cooler spring weather and high early summer temperatures experienced to date could have an impact on fruit size.

“Growers are still very optimistic as fruit quality is sound and packouts are looking promising,' Du Preez continued. 'Young orchards coming into production is one of the main factors contributing to the increase in the export crop estimate.”

Apple volumes are expected to increase by 6 per cent and pears by 8 per cent. “Apple cultivars such as Cripps Pink/Pink Lady and Cripps Red/Joya are expected to increase significantly; up 9 per cent and up 20 per cent respectively. This is due to newer cultivar strains with better yields and packouts being planted in recent years.”

In terms of pears, the Forelle variety is expected to return to a normal crop of more than 4m carton equivalents.

Packhams’ Triumph volumes are anticipated to increase by 6 per cent, and there will be growth in the volumes of summer blushed pears such as Cheeky, Celina and Rosemarie.

South Africa’s biggest markets for apples are the Far East, Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East, with pears more dependent on markets in the west.

The recent announcement that South African pears have received clearance for sale in China is expected to boost exports to the East.