Everyone knows South Africa’s avocado volumes are down this year, but by how much is still becoming clear as the early season unfolds and the start of the main Hass harvest gets closer.
Currently Maluma and Carmen Hass are being harvested, apart from greenskins like Fuerte and Pinkerton. The main Hass harvest starts in about two to four weeks.
In the Levubu region of Limpopo, a non-prevalent Hass region with some of the earliest Hass in the country, there are expectations of a decrease in volumes of only 10% to 20% among some producers.
In the Letaba region the feeling is different. “Volumes are down, perhaps even by as much as 40%,” says an avocado producer. “Actually we could do with a bit more volumes, seeing as other countries are down as well, and the market emptier than last year.”
One thing on which everyone agrees, is that the packouts this year are outstanding, with very little wind, hail and insect damage (with the unfortunate exception of fruit damaged during a storm in Levubu some weeks ago and hail in the Lowveld in November and December).
Quality looks better than last year and fruit is generally clean, is the general happy consensus.
Large fruit from young Hass trees
As for sizing, it is very early to say. At this stage it looks much the same as last year, perhaps one calibre down on Hass in certain areas, but still manageable.
The large fruit on young Hass trees coming into production will make up for it and close the gap, opines an avocado packhouse manager.
The heatwave of October last year caused some fruit drop on Hass, and the extent of that on overall volumes will become evident as the season progresses.