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South African Table Grape Industry Tackles Weather Challenges, Explores Future Strategy

May 30, 2023

As this year’s grape harvesting season in South Africa drew to a close, South African Table Grape Industry held a post-mortem session in April to review the 2022/23 season and formulate plans for next season.

Looking back at the 2022/23 season, South African grape producers encountered several challenges caused by adverse weather events, leading to significant reductions in output in many regions. The Northern Provinces region packed a total of 5.62 million cartons (4.5-kilogram equivalent), representing a 24% decrease compared with the previous season. The Orange River region packed 16.40 million cartons, which was 3.1 million cartons below the initial estimate and 6.05 million cartons fewer than the previous season. Meanwhile, the Olifants River and Hex River regions packed 2.96 million and 21.12 million cartons, respectively, down by 14% and 15% compared with the previous season. Among the five main growing regions, the Berg River region stood out as the only region that exceeded its initial estimate, packing a total of 19.05 million cartons.

Overall, most regions experienced good weather for the majority of the season, although some areas suffered from excessive rainfall. Early-maturing varieties ripened on average 7–10 days earlier than the previous season, while mid-season varieties were in line with previous seasons, resulting in good grape quality. Overall, this season’s grapes featured satisfactory sizes and good flavor.

In terms of export destinations for the 2022/23 season, 55% of South African grapes were shipped to the European Union, while 20% were exported to the United Kingdom. The export volume to the Middle East registered a tangible increase of 13% and accounted for 7% of the total export volume.

As of week 15, the total export volume of South African grapes amounted to 63.5 million cartons (285,750 metric tons), representing a decrease of 15% compared with the previous season. However, several cultivars displayed increases in their export volumes: Sweet Globe grew by 3% to 4.68 million cartons, Autumn Crisp surged by 13% to 4.28 million cartons, Arra Sweeties increased by 5% to 1.63 million cartons and Early Sweet rose by 2% to 1.55 million cartons.

Looking ahead to the upcoming season, forecasts indicate a drier period with less rainfall. The industry is also poised to enhance its logistical operations by implementing further optimizations in areas such as the booking system, port equipment and staff availability.

The planted area for table grapes in South Africa hit its peak of 21,800 hectares in 2019. Since then, the planting area has been gradually declining each year and stood at 20,400 hectares in 2022. This downward trend is expected to continue in certain growing regions. SATI is scheduled to conduct a new round of surveys to assess the current planted area in June of this year.

Image: SATI

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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