South African apple and pear export volumes are likely to drop by between 3% and 8% in 2018 due to ongoing drought.
In a statement, industry association Hortgro said after 3 consecutive years of drought, conditions in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces have worsened, with very little prospects of relief.
The association said due to the drought, producers in affected zones, which include the Villiersdorp-Vyeboom, Koue Bokkeveld and Klein Karoo areas, have taken drastic measures to continue operations with minimal irrigation water resources.
The producers said the severity of the drop in production volumes would be mitigated by output from new orchards established over the past 5 years.
“In a normal year, these new orchards would have added 4.2 million equivalent cartons of apples and 1.3 million equivalent cartons of pears (to the annual production estimate).
“The decrease is due to a combination of factors which include the negative impacts of drought on production volumes, (small) fruit sizes and pack-outs. Hail, wind and sunburn have also contributed to lowering export volumes,” Hortgro said.
The association said 2018 would be a tough season for South African apple and pear exporters as the drought is likely to persist throughout the season. Market factors, such as the firming of the rand against major currencies, are also likely to weigh down on local producers and exporters.