Cool weather in the Northern Cape has slowed down the start of the season, but intake volumes are well ahead of last year this time.
“We’re a week later than we would’ve liked to be,” remarks an exporter.
The slow start to the season is as a result of temperatures cooler than the longterm average, but it is expected that grape shipments will start to ramp up from this week.
From the two regions in South Africa now harvesting grapes (the Northern Cape and the Northern Provinces), 663,490 cartons of 4.5kg had been exported by the end of week 47. Intakes were 2.6 million 4.5kg cartons a week ago.
Of this year’s shipments, almost 400,000 cartons or 60% have gone to the European Union and 115,000 cartons (17%) to the United Kingdom.
Source: South African Table Grape Industry trade newsletter, 3 December 2021
“In the Northern Cape volumes have picked up after a slow start with good quality, sugars and eating quality of the early varieties. Producers are packing Prime, Early Sweet, Flame and Arra 13 (Arra Passion Star),” writes the South African Table Grape industry (SATI) in their latest newsletter.
SATI emphasises that both the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation as well as the International Commission on Microbiological Specifications for Foods maintain that there is no Covid risk to foodstuffs through surface contamination.
Heavy and sustained rain in Limpopo
In the Northern Provinces close to 3 million 4.5kg cartons have been packed, already reaching the halfway mark of their season.
The region, which comprises vineyards around the towns of Marble Hall and Groblersdal in Limpopo, get rain during harvesttime to a lesser or greater degree every year, but this year the rain has been unusually heavy and sustained.
"In Limpopo they know how to farm grapes with rain"
There is concern about the impact of the amounts of rain that have fallen, but a grape exporter, who procures grapes from this early area (not all grape exporters do), says there has been no interruption in their grape supply from the area.
“In Limpopo they know how to farm grapes with rain," continues the exporter. "In the rest of the country we make a plan after it has rained, but they do it completely differently: all under plastic and they follow different spraying and irrigation programmes in order to farm with the rain.”
White seedless volumes in the Northern Provinces could be less than the longterm average. Harvesting of Tawny, Midnight Beauty, Arra 29 and Arra 30 started last week, SATI notes.
The Olifants River Valley is next in line to start their harvest after an excellent 2020/21 season. The Berg River region, which last year overtook the Northern Cape as the second largest grape-growing region, will start towards the end of the year.