Prime Seedless Grapes
20 Januarie 2023

Fresh from the Field – South Africa Grape Update 

The South African region has been very fortunate in terms of shipping this year and is currently up 42% on global grape exports to the previous season. Through week 52 one year ago, we stood at around 9.7 million cartons exported.  This season has produced 13.8 million cartons. This is quite an achievement given the fact that the Orange River region is down by 20%.  

Timing is mostly 7-10 days earlier on early varieties, which contributes to this positive figure. However, these numbers do not show the shortage of grapes from the Orange River. 

Primary markets remain the UK and Europe, taking 79% of the total grapes exported.  

Update From Specific Grower Regions 

 Northern Province  

This region is still receiving rain almost every week with no end in sight, which is fairly common for this “rainy season.” The Northern Province had very close to 40 inches/1000mm of rain since the start of the season, so the quality and condition are being watched carefully.  Sweet Celebration™, Crimson, Autumn Crisp™, Adora™, and Scarlotta™ are currently being packed, but volumes are expected to be down by at least 17.7% at the end of the season. 

Orange River  

The general consensus from growers in the Orange River region is that they will achieve profitability this year.  This is due to the losses incurred by the heat wave in October and the poorly timed rain on the mid-season varieties, which also slowed down packing and led to some losses on varieties like Midnights and Tawny. It looks like the later varieties are faring better, but not nearly enough to make up for the losses in the early and mid-season production. 

This area still has around 10% of their grapes left to harvest while most of the early farms have already finished for the season. Varieties that are still available are THS, Adora™, Allison™, Magenta, Sweet Celebration™, Timco™, and Autumn Crisp™. 

Olifants River (Pitto)  

This area had some rain in December which affected some of the early varieties.  Fortunately, the negative impact was minimal. Since then, they have moved on to Ralli, Midnights, and Sweet Celebration™, and volumes are looking good. All pack houses are packing at full capacity. They will also soon start with THS and Ivory™ which are looking exceptional. 

Berg River Area (Le Roux)  

This area had between 18 and 43mm of rain also in December, which meant losses on some of the region’s early varieties including Prime, Firestar, Starlight and Tawny. Growing conditions since the rain have been very good. It has been dry with mild temperatures and cold nights, which is perfect for color and brix development. At this stage, we are also around 7 days earlier than last year, though the grapes are looking very good.  

Hex River 

It has been a good few weeks in the Hex valley in terms of weather after the rain. We are very positive about what is coming to the pack house and are 7-10 days earlier than last year. 

Rain damage could be seen on Prime and Starlight but the Arra29™, Tawny, Flame, Sable™, Arra15™ and Timpson™ previously being packed, but any signs of damage from the rain has now diminished.

Midnights will follow next week and are also looking very nice. Berry size on all varieties mentioned above is impressive and volumes are at healthy levels.