The apple and pear season already started three weeks ago with early Bon Chretien pears and so far, the crop is looking very good.
We are still seeing growth in the apple and pear industry that can be attributed to the replanting of orchards that followed the drought the region had years previously. This along with the second great winter season replenishing all water reserves leaves South African growers with a very positive outlook for the 2022 season.
The drought from 2017 initiated a drive to replace older less productive orchards with new and better varieties or newer strains of past varieties that produce better color and yields. This led to an increase year on year for the past three years. The growth on apples and pears last year was almost 10m cartons from 53.5m in 2020 to 63.1m in 2021. The crop estimates for 2022 is at 67m cartons.
he four biggest export markets for the 44.73m cartons of RSA apples exported in 2021 was Far East Asia and Asia followed by Africa, UK, and Middle East. These four markets cover 73% of apple and pear exports. The biggest varieties for apples are Royal Gala at about 9mm cartons and Golden Delicious around 6mm cartons followed by Pink lady and Granny Smith.
Of the 18.36mm cartons of pears exported in 2021 the spread was slightly different. The biggest market was Europe followed by Far East Asia and Asia. These markets took almost 48% of the pears followed by Russia and the Middle East taking 37%. Packhams Truimph is by far the biggest variety at around 6mm cartons followed by Forelle at around 2mm cartons.
For the 2022 crop the estimate on apples and pears is 67.3mm, which is a 7% growth on total volume.
Apple volumes are expected to grow by 6%. The two varieties with the biggest growth are Cripps Pink (Pink Lady) and Cripps Red, which are expected to grow by 9 and 20% respectively. The 9% growth on Cripps Pink will not be enough to topple Golden Delicious for second place.
There is still some availability on apples from last season including Granny Smith, Gala, and Fuji.
Panorama Golden is the first variety to come to the packinghouse followed by Gala as early as next week. Size and color are similar to last season, which was a good color season. After the Gala we are expecting Braeburn and Mahana Red in week 13 followed by Fuji in week 14 and Pink Lady in week 15. Fruit set is very good, and the crop outlook is also looking very good, but they are still around 8 weeks away. Weather is playing favorably this season, but there are some very hot days and heat waves still to come. Even with that, growers are overall very positive about the new season underway.
Turning to pears the industry isestimating 8% growth to 19.83mm cartons this year. Even with some nice new varieties like Cheeky and Qtee, Packham’s remain the biggest variety with another 6% increase in volume this year. As noted, the season already started with early Bon Chretien, Rosemarie, and Flamingo, and the market in te Europe and the UK is very good. Sizing is very similar to last year with pears peaking on count 70/80. The earliest Packham’s are just underway, with the bulk starting on week 6. Sizing is similar to last year peaking on counts70/60/80.