Apricots are pictured on a tree during the harvest season in Fey

JOHANNESBURG - The latest forecast for South Africa's stone fruit season points to improved volumes compared to last year although the continued effects of drought in some areas and adverse weather during pollination has impacted the full potential, an industry body said on Tuesday.

The past winter may have brought much needed rain to most parts of the Western Cape and climatic conditions in the northern provinces were also favourable for good flowering and fruit set, the deciduous fruit industry's knowledge partner Hortgro said in a statement, adding however that there were still parts of the Little Karoo area where a crisis was looming and rain was needed urgently.

"The initial export crop estimate projects an increase in volumes compared to the previous season, with the exception of apricots given that the majority of fresh apricots are produced in the Little Karoo," Hortgro said.

"The decrease in volumes is not only due to the drought but also a decline in the area planted to apricots. Since 2014, apricot hectares have decreased and thus also contribute to the low apricot forecast."


It said nectarines were expected to increase from last year’s 4 million cartons to almost 4.7 million cartons, with a more normal water regime, higher yielding cultivars and young orchards coming into production continuing to drive growth.

Peaches were slightly below the three-year average, in part due to older orchards being removed, while plum growers expected an increase of 15 percent from last season, although this was still below the three-year average. 

Increased volumes were mainly driven by young orchards coming into production and producers having more available irrigation water.

Apricots are pictured on a tree during the harvest season in Fey

- African News Agency (ANA)