This year’s Skelton Gold kiwifruit harvest finished in early March in South Africa and was only the third year of commercial volumes for the small group of growers growing these varieties. “The timing of our first harvests fits perfectly into the early window period before the New Zealand kiwifruit arrives in the Northern Hemisphere and as a result we achieved fantastic prices this year averaging 40 Rand (2 Euro) a kilo farm gate price,” said Pete Nicholson from Roselands Farm in Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal. “The fruit was mostly exported by Freshworld who have done an outstanding job to date.”
In July of 2019 the previous owner, SINO New Zealand, sold the South African rights to the Skelton stable of varieties to a core of five original growers including Peter. 2020 has been a watershed year for the Skelton varieties with excellent returns to growers and very positive feedback from international markets. According to Pete the South African Gold kiwifruit industry has massive potential for expansion. “Currently there is less than 200ha of gold kiwifruit planted in South Africa and there is great interest from new growers with high yields and high prices being the objective in gold kiwifruit production.
“The emphasis is on export as growers in South Africa understand the value of it being a Rand hedge in an unstable emerging market economy. There is currently a global undersupply of gold kiwifruit so there is plenty of room in the market especially in that all important early window and currently Northern Hemisphere markets are actively looking for an alternative to New Zealand and this is what makes the South African gold kiwi industry so exciting.
The Skelton varieties are currently capped at 500 Ha to keep the demand positive, but the cap can be revisited by the owners and growers if they feel it is necessary. Kiwifruit can be grown from the Northern regions of South Africa right down to the Western Cape, giving a harvest season starting in early February running through to as late as May. The Skelton stable boasts a host of varieties but focus is largely on three exciting early varieties namely Y368, Z487 and H14. The Skelton varieties are closely related to the original NZ Hort16A variety which originally set the world on fire so they are excellent eating and store well. Peter is also trialling a well known NZ variety known as TopGold or Y356 which is showing a lot of potential.
For more information:
Tel: +27 82 457 1614