The South African Table Grape Industry (Satgi) expects a bumper crop this year after two drought-induced difficult years, as harvesting in the northern areas has started at a brisk pace in the Orange River with both white and red seedless varieties. Photo: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Table Grape Industry (Satgi) expects a bumper crop this year after two drought-induced difficult years, as harvesting in the northern areas has started at a brisk pace in the Orange River with both white and red seedless varieties. 

This area produces a third of South Africa’s grapes. 

Their season seemed between five and seven days ahead of the usual schedule and the region’s cooler weather is aiding colour development, Satgi said.

WATCH: 

Video by: Chelsea Lotz, Business Report TV

Clayton Swart, the communications manager for Satgi, said it was still too early to say whether the 2019/2020 crop would exceed the record 2016/17 crop.

“At this stage we still have a wide range from just over 61 million 4.5 kilogram equivalent cartons at the low end to 67.8 million cartons at the high end, but it is still early days and we expect to narrow the range at the end of January,” he said. 

The northern region around Groblersdal and Marble Hall is already well into harvesting as the region has seen a fair bit of rain during the past few days.  

The Olifants River region around Clanwilliam is also a bit earlier than normal with red varieties already colouring with harvesting expected to start in a month, he said.

“Europe looks quite different to last year’s oversupply and there’s a sense of cautious optimism in the industry, not only with regards to the United Kingdom and European Union markets, but also for what an earlier crop could mean in terms of shipping supply in time for the Chinese New Year,” he added.

Satgi said a larger proportion of the national vineyards than before are either too young to yet bear fruit or not optimally producing yet, as older generation varieties had made way for newer varieties. 

That meant that in the future larger crops should be expected, but that ultimately depended on whether South Africa got sufficient rain going forward.

BUSINESS REPORT