South African grape harvest continues despite protests

The wage negotiations between table grape growers and farm workers are currently being discussed in the De Doorns area in the Hex River Valley. The continued violent protesting (see previous article) has led to an estimated 50 hectares out of the 3 956 hectares of table grape production in this region being destroyed, which has had a negative social and financial impact. The Hex valley region creates employment for 4740 permanent workers and 8642 seasonal workers and contributes to 29% of the total value of table grape exports.

The South African Table Grape Industry hopes that a peaceable and positive agreement will be reached over the next few days in the De Doorns table grape area.

Meanwhile in the Northern Province Region the first Early Sweet was harvested in Week 44. Week 45 will still see low volumes of this variety, as well as the first Prime being harvested. Flame Seedless and Starlight is ripening fast and may be ready for harvest within the Prime window. It is expected that most producers in the region will be packing towards the end of Week 46, resulting in higher volumes. The quality is very good and vineyards are healthy. Very warm weather conditions were experienced running up to this week.

A good to heavy crop volume on varieties in the Orange River Region is still expected. Harvesting on the early varieties in the early part of the region is expected to start in Weeks 46 to 47. Vines are very healthy, and good quality grapes are expected.

Weather conditions are still somewhat cooler than normal for this time of the year,
which is good for berry size development, but maintaining the delay in harvest at
±5-7 days later than in 2011/12.

In the Olifants River Region Prime and Starlight are ±1 week away from veraison, whilst thinning activities on later varieties are almost completed. Currently the season is still 5 – 7 days later than in 2011/12. Harvesting on Prime should commence from Week 48 with Flame Seedless also being harvested towards the end of Week 49. Vines are very healthy and good quality grapes are expected.

In the northern (early) part of the Berg River Region the early varieties have completed flowering and thinning and berry size enhancement activities are taking place. The season is still ± 5-7 days later than in 2011/12 and the first harvest is currently expected towards the end of Week 52. In the southern (later) part of the region the early varieties are in full bloom. Here the current expected harvest date could be up to 9 days later than in 2011/12. Temperatures are however picking up and the fact that no rain has fallen in the flowering period thus far holds good promise for the season ahead. The vines are very healthy and good quality grapes are expected.

The early and mid-season varieties are in the flowering period in the Hex Valley River Region. Weather conditions have improved with higher temperatures being experienced in the last few weeks. Vines are healthy.

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