The production and export of soft citrus, lemons and limes is expected to continue its strong growth in the 2018/19 MY, based on the increase in area planted, high level of new-plantings coming into full production and improved water management techniques by farmers who have been forced to adapt to the frequent drought conditions. Duty free exports of citrus to the United States under the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) are expected to continue their strong annual growth, as the United States is still considered a premium market.
Oranges: Rise in acreage, better water management
The production of oranges is estimated to increase by 3 percent to 1.60 million MT in the 2018/19 MY, from 1.55 million MT in the 2017/18 MY. This is due to the rise in area planted, better water management techniques by farmers, and industry shifts to high yielding and late maturing varieties.
This was partially offset by dry conditions, smaller fruit sizes and hail damage in some growing regions. Limpopo is the leading growing region for oranges accounting for 49 percent of the total area planted, followed by the Eastern Cape (25 percent), Western Cape (15 percent), Mpumalanga (8 percent), KwaZulu Natal (1 percent), Northern Cape (1 percent) and the North West Province (1 percent). Valencia’s account for about 61 percent of the total area planted to oranges, and navels account for 39 percent. The predominant variety planted is the Midnight accounting for 22 percent of the total area planted, followed by the Valencia Late variety at 12 percent, Delta (11 percent), Palmer (8 percent), Turkey (7 percent), Bennie (6 percent), Bahianinha (5 percent) and Cambria 95 percent).
The area planted with oranges is estimated to grow marginally by 2 percent to 45,000 hectares in the 2018/19 MY, from 44,000 hectares, based on the increases in area planted to seedless orange varieties. This rise will be partially offset by the industry shift from orange production to soft citrus in the Western Cape and Limpopo growing regions. Figure 3 below shows the trend in the area planted to oranges since 2007.