The Medjool date harvest at ZZ2’s Haakiesdoorn farm in the Karas Region of southern Namibia has just started after an unusually rainy season and the company expects it to be another exceptional harvest.
Like last year’s crop, the sizes peak between large and jumbo with great quality.
“The weather has again been on our side this season,” says Francois Schwalb, from ZZ2 Marketing.
“Due to the longer shelf life, we can also market the Medjool throughout the year. Ramadan is always a unique window for the date industry, this year being from the evening of Monday 12 April to the evening of Wednesday, 12 May.”
Mesh netting bags are placed around the ripening fruit bunch, both to protect against birds and to catch the falling ripe fruit. Gentle shaking of the mesh bag helps to loosen the ripe fruit before harvesting
“Prices for the newly harvested dates are expected to be slightly lower than they were last year due to the increase in international carry-over and production.”
The packhouse starts packing this week and the first export shipments are due early March.
“We are looking forward to an 72% increase in production from 232 tonnes last year to an expected 2021 harvest of 400 tonnes. This will be 12 to 15% of Southern Africa’s total production of Medjool dates this year.”
The date palm orchards are located on the banks of the Orange River between Namibia and South Africa, currently spanning just over 130ha. They are not expanding in hectares this year but might do so again in coming years. Most of the plant material was imported from Zemach Nursery in Israel, but some trees were locally procured from Loeriesfontein, South Africa.
ZZ2 has 130ha of Medjool dates on the banks of the Orange River
“Of our 2021 packed Medjool dates, an estimate of 80% will be exported through CoreFruit to different clients in Africa, the United Arab Emirates, Asia, Europe and the UK. The remaining 20% will be sold in South Africa through retail programmes and at the National Fresh Produce Markets in 150g, 300g, 400g, 1kg and 5kg packaging.”
He continues that In South Africa most of the 2020 harvest is already sold. "We are thankful that the local demand was so strong. Overall, Covid regulations fortunately did not have a serious effect on our international distribution, but there were a few cases where we had to change our loads to alternative markets due to the initial lockdown level 5 rules at some export countries."
In the ZZ2 date packhouse: Jackson Johannes (packhouse team leader), Willie Loots (packhouse manager), Wiehann van Dyk (packline technician) and Andries Nolte (technical manager)
“We are also excited to share that in the broader ZZ2 group we passed our first virtual GlobalG.A.P audit on the 10th of February for the Karas date farm.”