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Despite hail storms South Africa predicts good season

Following the hail storms which occurred in the Orange River Region and in the Saron/Halfmanshof area (part of the Berg River Region) last Monday, SATGI estimated losses in the Orange River Region of approximately 1 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons. The volume affected in the Saron/Halfmanshof area is approximately 1.2 million 4.5kg equivalent cartons. It should however be noted that the final impact of hail damage will only be known once all product has been packed.

The vines were in the early growth phase, with the early varieties being at ±10 days prior to flowering, whilst the late varieties are ±4 weeks prior to flowering. Shoot lengths vary from 15cm (late varieties) to 40cm (early varieties). The normal start of the harvest period in this specific area is approximately Week 51/52.

The whole affected area covers approximately 600 ha in Saron/Halfmanshof. Although the hail damage differs from farm to farm, early assessments indicate that up to 1,200 000 million equivalent cartons were lost out of the ±2 500 000 million equivalent cartons packed annually in this area (almost 50% of production).

It should however be noted that the final impact of hail damage is only known once all product has been packed, as the visual damage on the vine differs considerably from the visual damage seen at maturity. Since this damage occurred prior to flowering, the small whole bunches that still looks fine now, may be lost in the next few weeks as a result of the stress the vine has now been exposed to (whole shoots were knocked off some vines).

The South African table grape industry anticipates a good 2014/15 packing season. In general, bud break and vine development were excellent over the last couple of months in all areas due to good chilling accumulation in winter. The excellent winter conditions also bode well for a good crop volume and quality for the season ahead.

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