Mixed bag of ex­pec­ta­tions for stone fruit in 2019

Farmer's Weekly (South Africa) - - Commodity Outlook 2019 -

Last year was a chal­leng­ing year for South Africa’s stone fruit in­dus­try, due to the rip­ple ef­fect of the drought, the heat­wave ex­pe­ri­enced in Oc­to­ber, as well as hail and un­timely rain.

As a re­sult, the peach har­vest was es­ti­mated to de­cline 3%, while plum and nec­tarine vol­umes were ex­pected to only in­crease 3%, ac­cord­ing to Jac­ques du Preez, Hort­gro’s gen­eral man­ager for trade and mar­kets. More­over, the apri­cot har­vest was ex­pected to be 11% smaller than the pre­vi­ous sea­son.

Du Preez said that de­spite apri­cot trees hav­ing a ten­dency for al­ter­nate bear­ing, the drought and other cli­matic con­di­tions had re­sulted in apri­cot vol­umes drop­ping for a se­cond con­sec­u­tive sea­son. The area planted to apri­cots had also de­clined dra­mat­i­cally over the past few years, while or­chards pro­duc­ing fruit des­tined for the fresh fruit mar­ket were not be­ing re­planted, due to a short­age of new va­ri­eties suit­able to lo­cal cli­matic con­di­tions.

He added that the peach and nec­tarine seg­ments of the in­dus­try were in a con­sol­i­da­tion phase at present. But, in­di­vid­ual peach va­ri­eties, such as Sum­mer Sun, Temp­ta­tion and the Am­ber­crest se­ries, had shown re­cent growth.

He said it was ex­pected that there would be some growth in plum pro­duc­tion over the next few years: “Many wine farm­ers started to plant plums as an al­ter­na­tive crop.” – Je­an­dré van der Walt

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