South Africa releases stonefruit estimate

Hortgro has released its latest stone fruit estimates, a downward adjustment for plums, nectarines and peaches while apricots performed better than was expected a few months ago. Their new estimates reflect lower volumes (smaller fruit) and lower packouts as a result of wind, sleet and hail marks in many cultivars. In general most cultivars’ harvest is about a week later than other years but the brix levels of plums are higher this year.

Exports on early plum cultivars are 9% down, expected to drop to 13% on the mid and late cultivars, bringing the estimate for the entire season to -12% (estimated at -4% at the start of the season). Wind and hail have played a role in lower packouts, as has sunburn and a decrease in cosmetic appearance of some red and black plums, like Fortune (22% down YTD by week 3, which brings it back to the volumes of two years ago) and Lady Red (32% down YTD week 3). Ruby Sun has bucked the trend with an increase of 45% compared to last year, primarily because of new orchards coming into production, Hortgro says.

The Laetitia harvest will peak this week. A lighter harvest is expected, more than half a million equivalent 5.25kg export cartons fewer than during the 2015/16 season and the lowest export crop in five years. The cultivar is down on fruit size, peaking at between AA and B. Hortgro notes that pack houses are not under pressure due to an extended Laetitia harvesting period. 

For African Delight a reduction of 9% is predicted, standing at more than 1.3 million cartons for the season, but traders report good size, perhaps as a result of the fact that this cultivar was prioritized in terms of water allocation in expectation of good export opportunities.

“African Pride/Sunkiss export volumes are considerably lower compared to the previous season (-26%),” says Hortgro, noting that it nevertheless had very good sugar levels and eating quality. 

It continues: “Sun Supreme and Flavor King are drawing to an end during weeks 5 and 6. Export volumes are expected to be down by -14% (Sun Supreme) and -9% (Flavor King) respectively. “

Songold plums (-11%) have benefited from hot growing conditions in the Cape.

Plum estimates 

Nectarines and peaches
The nectarine picture shows positive growth of 2% compared to last season, on the back of a 23% growth in Super Star® and almost a doubling of N47-31 (Luciana), among early cultivars, and a 39% increase in Snow Pearl. August Red is expected to be 6% down when it starts this week. 

Good news is that a normal Summer Fire harvest is expected with good fruit size and August Bright even up by 15% as a result of new plantings.

“The Red Jewel, Ruby Diamond and Summer Bright harvest drawing to an end during week 4. Export volumes are expected to decrease by -20% (Red Jewel), -18% (Ruby Diamond) and -18% (Summer Bright) respectively,” reports Hortgro. 

The peach season is in its final stretch, 4% lower.

The apricot season has closed, only 7% down on the previous season. In October last year Hortgro had predicted that apricot export volumes would be 17% down. Apricots were in an alternate bearing year, but all was not doom and gloom: there was a 144% jump in Soldonne volumes, albeit from a very low base. The dominant varieties of Charisma were 1% up and Imperial/Palsteyn 18% down.

For more information:
Jacques du Preez
Tel: +27 21 870 2900

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