July 2021 SA Field report - harvest with hurdles
Updated: Aug 5
The 2021 crop was a difficult one with a lot of hurdles. First, there was the frost damage in September in the lower Orange River region. Initially, and despite the frost damage, the total South African vine fruit crop was estimated between 84,000–86,000 metric ton, similar in volume as the crop produced in 2020.
Orange River Region
As the crop progressed, the Orange River region had unexpected heavy rainfalls and floods. This impacted the raisins on the vine as well as the raisins at the drying facilities. After the first heavy rainfalls, it was expected that the crop would be reduced by around 8-11% (75,000 - 78,000 t) in 2021. However ongoing rains impacted the crop even more, in such way that the final volume of 2021 is only 71,731 ton compared to 85,080 ton the previous year. That is a decrease of more than 15%. Interesting trends are that significantly less Golden sultanas were produced due to unfavorable weather conditions in the Orange River. The total crop of golden sultanas is 15,064 ton versus 28,875 ton the previous year. Also the Orange River Sultanas were impacted by the rain. As a result very low volumes of this product since the rain and moisture will cause the skin to darken and only little volumes passed the ORS quality test.
Olifants River area - Western Cape
The Olifants River valley, in the Western Cape, has experienced excellent growing conditions this season. In this region no rain damages occurred. The Olifants River has thus produced a good volume and will reach 12,000 ton in 2021. The quality of currants, Thompsons and Flames produced in this region is of good quality. The past month we had a few cold days, but we still require more cold units. This weekend a cold front is approaching the region. Most producers will start to prune their vineyards to prepare for the 2022 crop.
This year’s crop was initially the biggest harvest since 2008. There was a lot of small fruit due to the same weather circumstances that affected all other fruit types. A big cold front in middle March destroyed the last third of the prune harvest as the prunes started rotting on trees due to the high rainfall over three days.
Royal type apricots
It was the biggest fresh tonnage Royal harvest the last five years. The Royal apricot harvest started +/- 12 days later than the 2019 – 2020 harvest. This was a result of a cool October and November. Picking only started on the 14th of December. Due to the cooler weather, fruit were on average smaller and had a lower sugar content than normal. There are still some apricots available to be contracted.
Bulida type apricots
Bulida producers faced the same challenges as Royal apricot farmers in terms of size and quality. Limited volumes have been procured.
Elberta type peaches
The Elberta harvest was 10 – 12 days later than normal. Demand for this product is very good, but due to low prices to farmers orchards of Elberta cultivars are being pulled out. The shortage will not improve if the prices to producers do not improve. Farmers did not plant any Elbertas for the last five years.
Due to restrictions on the tonnage of Clings to be procured only two producers delivered the required volumes needed for this season.