Janine Lombard - Core Fruit

South Africa: First Tawny grapes harvested, unaffected by rain

South African Breeder Lombardi Genetics launched it first commercial volumes of the new Tawny seedless grape variety this season. The new vines were planted in 2014. There are over 200 growers growing this early red seedless variety.



Janine Lombard from Core Fruit took FreshPlaza along to one of the Chargo Trust farms near Kakamas to take a look at the Tawny seedless grapes.

Core Fruit has 8 growers in the Northern Cape region, some of whom grow exclusively for the company. The Tawny seedless in Kakamas was not quite ready for harvest as the sugars were still too low, but they were busy packing in Limpopo. "There has been a lot of rain up there," explained Janine. "But everything is under plastic so the Tawny seedless grapes are unaffected by the rain under plastic. We are geared up for that as it is a summer rainfall area. It has been so dry in that area that rain is a very good thing for most farmers."



Growers are happy with this new variety as it is easy to grow and colours more easily than other varieties, the stems also stay green, even after travel.

The bunches are trimmed on the vine at a hand's length, to give bigger berries. The harvest in Limpopo Tawny seedless takes place from the end of week 47, beginning of 48 followed by the Orange river region. The shelf-life of Tawny seedless is 6-8 weeks. 4 Weeks on the water for shipping and with a shelf-life of 2-4 weeks thereafter.



The Tawny is a very consistent variety and this what consumers want.

"We export 800,000, 4.5kg cartons of grapes from the Kakamas area, the biggest production area is in Limpopo where they export 1.5 million, and from the Western-cape and Hex River valley approximately 1.3 cartons, we produce in all the areas in South Africa.



"The later areas, such as the Hex River, are a bit short of water and if this year stays dry we will be in a bit of trouble, but no one can say exactly how much rain will fall. We, as grape growers don't want rain right now as it would be a disaster, but for the grain and cattle farmers the dry weather is very tough."



South African exporters work to an export standard which is correlated to the EU standard, but this is just the minimum standard. Supermarkets in the UK will give the standard which they require and growers have to pack according to that. Janine collects all the standards from the various supermarkets and puts them together for the growers. The only thing which changes regularly is the type of packaging.



Core Fruit mostly try to load the containers on the farm which is best for the grapes, as when they are in and the door is shut the temperature will remain the same.

Janine's roll, along with 3 colleagues is to visit each packhouse twice a day during harvest to check what is being packed and advise the commercial team which market the fruit should go to.

For more information on Lombardi Genetics varieties please contact Jean Smith - jean@lombardigenetics.com or Janine Lombard - janine@lombardigenetics.com.








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