The grape harvest in Aussenkehr started slightly late this season according to Willem Visser from Silverlands. “We started harvesting a little later this season, at the beginning of November, it is going well so far and we have caught up now. The first grapes to be harvested were the Early Sweet Prime and we are now on the Flames and moving towards ARRRA 13, 14 and 15 varieties.”
Europe was predicted to be a tricky market in December and this prediction is proving true, “It’s not like previous honeymoon years,” comments Willem. “Brazil sent a lot of fruit to Europe and Peru are later with good quality fruit, also Chile will send almost nothing to the US due to the good Californian crop and the US issues with China.”
“The late start did mean that we didn’t get the volume we would have wanted on the pre-Christmas boats, but seeing how the market is that might not be such a bad thing.”
Quality from Namibia is also very good, with only two weekends with temperatures above 40 degrees, conditions are ideal with cool nights, which is bringing great colour to the fruit. There were good rains in the Transvaal region which filled the dams and so water supply is not a concern. Willem did mention that low temperatures at flowering was a worry, but he does not expect that Aussenkehr valley will reach the initial estimate of 7 million 4.5 kg trays it will most likely be a little down on volume but not a lot, maybe more like 6.5 mil 4.5 kg cartons
The northern regions of South Africa are also running slightly late so there will be no clash in timings as they are just starting up at the moment.
Silverlands tries to divide the grape export by sending some to the UK and Middle East so they are not totally dependent on the EU markets, that said they do have some very good, long established customers in Europe where fruit is programmed, but those without programs will really struggle this year according to Willem. Silverlands also fieldpack into punnets, where some other suppliers from South America only use 8.2 kg packs, this gives them an advantage.