Variety Featured: Valencia
17 agosto 2020

Crop Update: South African Citrus

Vanguard is pleased to provide an update on citrus out of South Africa.

A successful season

We are heading into week 33 of the South African citrus season, with Vanguard focused on Orange varieties for all of our key markets.  Growers originally wanted to “stretch” the season to ensure  prolonged availability and to not oversupply with key markets, however, this plan was quickly altered when markets like Europe, Canada, and the UK unexpectedly showed a massive increase in appetite for citrus as a result of Covid. This season has surpassed expectations. Southeast Asia is the only market that is under the mark on volume exports through week 30.

This bodes as good news for South African Oranges, as they are ahead of the curve in terms of volume for the 2020 season, but some growers are noting that some varieties like Midknights and Deltas are under performing in terms of volume that will likely affect their estimates and total final production. However, no changes have been made to the South African crop and it is still standing at 75.2 million for Navels and Valencias.  This is 4.1 million cartons more than 2019.

New plantings producing increase volumes

We are expecting big increases in volumes of soft citrus this season with approximately 8.2 million additional cartons produced, bringing the total estimate to 22.8 million cartons.  Lemon estimates are also up 4.6 million cartons, bringing the total estimate to 26.7 million cartons. Increases in these categories are mostly due to new plantings coming into production.  These figures will continue to grow considerably over the next few years.

Export Figures up to Week 30:

  • Oranges – 27.9 million cartons exported, 24% increase from 2019
  • Grapefruit – 12.6 million cartons exported, 2% decrease from 2019
  • Lemons – 19.6 million cartons exported, 40% increase from 2019
  • Soft citrus – 14.5 million cartons exported, 35% increase from 2019

Transport strike

There was a transport strike that occurred three weeks ago, causing a build-up of citrus pallets in the Durban Port.  As citrus volumes were spiking, this was incredibly problematic. The good news is that the Port of Durban performed admirably under pressure and the backlog was quickly resolved. From the volume reports on exported fruit, we can see that this was handled very well. 

A look at what’s left for this season

As noted above, 74.6 million of the total estimated 139.9 million cartons have departed South African shores by week 30. At more than halfway through the season, grapefruit is wrapping up, while lemons and soft citrus will still produce around 7 million and 8 million cartons respectively. There are 47.3 million cartons of Navel and Valencia oranges that need to be packed over the next 5-6 weeks. The Navel orange peak has finished and volumes will taper off this week.  Bennie Valencias are finishing up as well. Midknights and Deltas will remain as the main producing varieties into week 33, followed by Valencia Lates in week 34 and 35 while the last of this fruit is packed. Quality and condition on varieties mentioned above are looking very good. Peak size is rather big at 64/65, and volume is expected to be lower than normal.

With a very fruitful citrus season wrapping up in South Africa, growers’ race towards the finish line in hopes to finish off the season before Coronavirus reaches its height in South Africa. A short but sweet finish!