• Contribution from young vines will swell crop volumes

    High expectations of possibly delayed new table grape season

    "We're going to have our hands full this year," says an Orange River grape grower; like many in the South African table grape industry they wholeheartedly embraced cultivar renewal.

    They re-established close to a 100ha with new varieties, he says, and this season they'll be taking off double last year's crop from their new vines, giving them a bump in volumes.

    "The amount of fruit on the vines of the early varieties are looking good and we could see a record crop this year if all goes well."

    In fact, so widespread has vineyard renewal been over the past few years, plus a great improvement in water prospects, that the possibility of collectively packing 70 million 4.5kg cartons for export from South Africa this year is mooted in some quarters.

    That would represent an increase of almost four million cartons on last season, in which 66.15 million 4.5kg cartons were inspected for export.

    Best winter in years for Cape grape growers
    The winter was notably cold and wet, excellent for vine dormancy.

    Fresh produce analyst Dr Johnny van der Merwe reports that the upcoming crop is expected to be strong in terms of quality and consistency in sizing.?

    He adds that the cooler weather could mean a slower start to the table grape season.

    A cool spring with recent significant rainfall over the interior could delay the harvest of the first South African grapes, grown in Limpopo Province, which usually coincides with the start in Namibia.

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