The harvest of grapefruit has started in the northern regions of South Africa. At Komati Fruit Group, selective harvesting started in week 13.
"We have started with selective picking of the high-quality grapefruit to enter the early market. The fruit on the inside of the tree tends to color up quicker than outside. We will go through the orchards twice before the main strip harvesting," explains Jacques Borcherds at Riverside Farm Packhouse. "The overall quality is excellent from what we have seen, while the internal quality is well above the minimum packing standard, and volumes should be up in both the northern and southern regions of South Africa."
The wet summer was good for the South African citrus growers as good rain fell throughout the growing season and helped the sizing and the quality of the fruit. It has also filled the water reservoirs after a long period of drought.
"This is great as there is a lot of citrus grown here in the north, and the growers are looking forward to having a better harvest this year and the ability to irrigate orchards well coming out of winter when we have no rainfall."
The Citrus Growers Association monitors grapefruit exports, but growers can enter the markets as soon as the fruit specifications for export are met. Most growers like to export as early as possible to enter the European and Chinese markets when volumes are low, while other growers have to wait until weeks 15-18 for color and internal quality to mature.
"We have quite a bit of white grapefruit, which is very popular in Japan, so being on the first and second vessels arriving in Japan is crucial for us, which is why we try to start as early as possible. Our most significant focus is the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and European markets.
"The first grapefruit is packed, and the first ship bound for Europe will leave by the 1st of May, arriving mid-May. At this stage, the European market is looking very positive, especially for South African growers' early grapefruit."
For more information:
The Karino Farms Pty Ltd
Tel: +27 137903004