STONE FRUIT CROP expected to be ‘closer to normal’
South Africa is heading for a promising stone fruit season, with volumes on track to be higher than those of the past season. Hortgro recently released its first stone fruit forecast for the season that indicated a ‘closer to normal’ crop for the 2018/2019 season.
The forecast for nectarines was 5% up at 4,3 million 2,5kg equivalent cartons; peaches were expected to increase
3% to just over 2,2 million 2,5kg equivalent cartons, while plum production was expected to be 6% higher at just over 10,8 million 5,25kg equivalent cartons for exports.
At 719 588 cartons of 4,75kg equivalent, apricots would be 1% down compared with last year.
According to Jacques du Preez, general manager for trade and markets at Hortgro, the increase in production was mainly driven by young orchards coming into production and expansion of the industry in recent years.
He said apricots were the only exception, with current volumes estimated to be on par with the previous season.
“This is due to the fact that parts of the Little Karoo region [Ladismith, Barrydale, Prince Albert and Calitzdorp], which is the main production region for fresh apricots, are experiencing issues with water availability and had cold weather during the flowering period,” Du Preez explained.
Overall, early varieties in all production regions seemed to have had good fruit set, while the general belief was that the status of irrigation water was adequate to support a good crop for the season, he added. – Jeandré van der Walt