First vessel Namibian grapes leaves tomorrow

The Namibian grape harvest has started but without the bang of last year, according to Andre Vermaak, Managing Director of Silverlands Estates, Namibia.
"It makes it easier than last year, but is still a bit frustrating when the volume and quality are all there, but it means than we can plan better."

The first vessel will leave on the 18th November.

"This time last year we were all very exited at the start of the season, but this year is looking more stable. We will still have the gap when we are only ones on the market. Last year the importers panicked when Europe was out of the market early and made deals in Brazil which ended up flooding market," said Vermaak.

Temperatures in the region are well below normal, with early morning temperatures as low as of 13°C last week, they are usually above 20-27°C in the morning, peaking 35-38°C, this how is has been for the last few days and there is now a cold front is heading in from Capetown according to Vermaak.

Water supply should not be a problem though, the Aussenker region sources its water from the Orange River and according to Vermaak there is enough capacity in the dams to see them through until February/March and of course the summer rains should still come.

Silverlands Estates estimates a marked increase in volumes this season, 6 million cartons compared to 5.1 last year.

The increase in volume will not stop there, though. The company has made heavy investment in Namibia, buying 100's of hectares of new land. "In three year's time we aim to have developed 800 ha and possibly 400 more from our neighbours.

Vermaak said they also have access to the IFG varieties such as Cotton Candy, Sweet Celebration, Sheenan, Magenta, Meldoy etc, also the Arra varieties. There is will be no Flame, Thompson or Sucraone planted on the new land it will all be given to the new varieties, while the existing properties will continue to grow the traditional varieties.

At the moment export is mainly directed at Europe and the UK, but in around three year's time Vermaak hopes be sending more eastwards: 25% UK, 50% EU and 25% Middle East and Asia.
 
Saturday was the annual was the block competition at Silverlands Estates a big event in the calendar. The guest speaker was the child of one of the pioneers of the grape business, who is also in the fruit industry, "He has time and time again correctly predicted the 'future' of the our industry. Back in 2009 he said that by 2015-6 will have 6m cartons and he was spot on! He is now predicting 10million cartons by 2020, and by 2023, 15m."



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