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Anton Viljoen – South African Table Grape Industry

New grape varieties increase the competitiveness of the Northern Cape

The grape harvest started two weeks ago in the Northern Cape. “It’s a very good harvest hanging there, with really very satisfactory berry sizing,” says Anton Viljoen, chairperson of the South African Table Grape Industry (SATI).

Right: Sweet Globe, for which South African grape growers receive a lot of interest from the East

“Because of cool and mild conditions, it has been ripening slowly in the Northern Cape, but harvesting is now picking up momentum.”

The Northern Cape has invested heavily in new varieties and this will be the first season for these new blocks to bear large volumes which should increase the region’s competitiveness.

The area had been slow to remove older varieties like Sugraone, Thompson, Early Sweet and Flame to make way for new generation grapes, he remarks, and had lost some of its market share to early adapters like Peru.

Over the past few years, however, growers along the Orange River have expanded their plantings of new varieties like Timpson, Sweet Globe, Sweet Celebration and Autumn Crisp.

“The new varieties look very good and they do well in this area,” he says. “We’re very excited about them.”

He remarks that they’re receiving a lot of enquiries into Sweet Globe from the East, in part as a result of the heavy rains hampering the Indian grape harvest.

Currently Peru is strong in Europe, particularly with grapes like Sweet Globe. The USA is emptying out, hopefully pulling more Peruvian grapes in that direction and creating more space in Europe for South Africa.

In the Berg River and Hex River vineyards the developing fruit looks excellent, he says, and the harvest will probably start just before New Year in the Berg River and a bit later in the Hex River.

Sun World's Autumn Crisp, one of the new varieties in which Northern Cape growers have invested heavily

For more information:
Anton Viljoen
South African Table Grape Industry
Tel: +27 21 863 0366

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