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South African table grapes escape hail damage

The South African table grape industry has escaped damaged from the weekend's storm. Both the Berg River and Hex River Valley table grape production regions did not experience any flooding or hail.

According to Andre van Wyke, Technical Manager at SATI, "Temperatures are fluctuating somewhat but not necessarily more than in the last 3-4 seasons. Cooler weather sometimes tend to be more beneficial than (extremely) hot weather, especially during flowering and fruit set. Vineyards in both the regions where the rain occurred are now in the flowering and fruit set stage."

In general the grape production has no hail protection but a very small % of hectares have protective netting in place, but this is for the purpose of managing micro climate.

"There is some rain forecast for parts of the Western Cape tonight and tomorrow, which may cause increased disease pressure in the area. However, producers have taken pro-active steps (before the weekend rain) to limit the potential of possible disease outbreaks e.g. powdery mildew," said van Wyke.

Meanwhile in the Northern Province Region producers are busy packing for export. Varieties are mostly Early Sweet® and Prime that is being packed, with Starlight ready for harvest. Weather conditions are warm and relatively dry and perfect for harvest. At this stage the maturity development on the first varieties is remarkably even, leading to a quick harvest and packing tempo. According to the SATI trade newsletter the quality is excellent and vineyards are healthy.

The very early parts of the Orange River Region region have started packing Prime in very low volumes. It is expected that volumes will only reach significant levels towards the end of Week 47 into Week 48. Flame Seedless has entered the veraison stage. Weather conditions here in the last 2 weeks have been good for berry development.

The development of the early varieties is very good in the Oliphants River Region. Starlight is entering veraison. Bunch thinning on some later varieties was higher than anticipated due to an extremely hot day at the start of Week 46. It is expected that the first grapes in the region will be packed in Trawal during Week 49, with Vredendal starting to pack in Week 50.

Early indications are that the Berg River Region can expect a very good crop. In the late parts of the region (Paarl), the late varieties are entering the flowering period, whilst bunch thinning and berry enlargement activities are underway throughout the region. It is expected that packing in the early part of the region (Piketberg) may start after Christmas.

In the Hex River Valley Region berry enlargement activities are underway on Prime, Flame Seedless and Sugraone. Bunch thinning activities are underway on Crimson Seedless and other mid-season varieties. The late varieties are in full bloom. The generally cool weather conditions have caused bunch thinning on early varieties to be somewhat less than anticipated, but this shouldn’t be problematic. The vineyards are healthy.

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