South Africa’s 2018 grape harvest “resilient” despite drought

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The 2017/’18 grape harvest has remained “resilient” with production volumes stabilising despite facing the worst drought in decades, says South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) says.

In an update issued on 5 February, SATI Communications Manager Clayton Swart said the 4th crop estimate for the 2017/’18 season shows that, at most, harvest volumes would drop by 16.8% this year, compared to the total output of the 2016/’17 season.

“The new estimate is between 56.2 million cartons and 59.3 million cartons (of grapes), reflecting an unchanged upper limit and a slight increase in the lower limit. The northern provinces region, nearly at the end of their harvest and with enough available water, fared even better than predicted.

“The Orange River region, which also has enough water, has done reasonably well despite some challenges with smaller berries and lower bunch weights. Producers in this region are expected to practically complete packing within the next 2 weeks. The 3 regions hardest hit by the drought and heat are the Olifants, Berg and Hex River,” Swart said.

When compared to the 2016/’17 season, most producers have reported output declines of between 10% and 30%, an outcome that shows the varying nature of the effects of the drought. Estimates show that normal volumes of grapes will be available for export for the next 4 weeks, starting on 5 February.

“However, a shorter tail-end of the harvest is expected due to the cut in water allocations and possible further effects of the ongoing drought,” he said.

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