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[Press Release] South African Table Grape Industry Releases First Crop Estimate

October 30, 2020

This content has been modified from its original version. It has been edited for content and style, as well as to follow Produce Report editorial guidelines and for necessary website formatting.

Oct. 27, 2020South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) has released its first crop estimate for the 2020/2021 season, with intake volumes estimated to be between 65.0 million and 69.8 million cartons (4.5 kg equivalent). This signals an expected return to normal industry volumes and reflects the marginal growth in planted hectares over the last six years.

The earliest Northern Provinces region is expected to begin harvesting a week later than normal, in week 45, while indications are that the Orange River region is likely to start approximately five days later owing to cooler spring weather. It is still too early to predict exactly when the remaining three South African production regions based in the Western Cape province will start harvesting.

According to SATI Chairman Fanie Naudé, the focus will be on providing quality table grapes from South Africa, which are an essential part of healthy diets with producers ready to meet the increasing worldwide demand for healthy fruit, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The basis of the crop estimate is supported by the latest vine census, which reflects the response of the South African table grape industry to market preferences through investment in new varieties, which is accelerating the replacement of older-generation varieties with new-generation varieties. Thus, larger percentages of young vines across most of the production regions are currently not bearing or not yet in full production.

The crop estimates are generated in cooperation with growers and industry experts representing all production regions. SATI will use this structure to be more responsive to in-season developments and deviations.

The estimates given in the following table were reached by considering the best available information, experience and observations alongside the latest industry vine census and historical data.

First crop estimate for 2020/2021 season (million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons).
2020/2021 SEASON ESTIMATE ACTUAL PACKED VOLUME
REGION LOW HIGH 2019/2020 2018/2019 2017/2018
Northern Provinces 6.90 7.40 6.10 7.12 6.83
Orange River 18.50 19.90 19.86 19.21 19.02
Olifants River 3.50 3.80 3.32 2.37 2.80
Berg River 15.50 16.70 16.27 13.79 13.05
Hex River 20.60 22.00 20.60 18.65 20.37
TOTAL 65.00 69.80 66.15 61.13 62.06

The expectation for the first half of the SA season (up to around week 4) is that volumes are not expected to exceed those in previous years. This is attributable to the extended colder conditions in the Orange River region leading to a slightly later start than previously expected.

A return to a normal crop is expected for the three Western Cape regions, especially in the late Hex River region, where unseasonal rain last season caused substantial losses.

It should be noted that approximately 60% of the total crop originates from the mid-to-late Berg and Hex River regions, with further updates from this region to be expected in a second crop estimate toward the end of the year.

The Olifants River region received plenty of winter rain, with a full recovery expected for this region.

The realization of this crop estimate depends on a few critical factors, with the weather conditions immediately prior to and during the harvest season being the most important.

Images: South African Table Grape Industry

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