Mixed bag of expectations for stone fruit in 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