Wine grape producers fear that cold and wet temperatures during flowering could have negative effects. Picture: Neil Baynes/African News Agency
Wine grape producers fear that cold and wet temperatures during flowering could have negative effects. Picture: Neil Baynes/African News Agency

Wine grape producers had a good season but fear cold, wet temperatures may still affect harvest

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Dec 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Wine grape producers have so far experienced a relatively favourable and healthy season in the run-up to the 2022 wine grape harvest, however farmers fear that cold and wet temperatures during flowering could have negative effects.

Vinpro consultation services manager Conrad Schutte said after a later than normal autumn, following good cold conditions and the accumulation of rainfall during winter, and spring being cooler than normal, the flowering was relatively even in most regions.

He said the season was also about one to two weeks later than normal and that varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon may have been affected by the recent rain.

“Cold winter conditions coupled with decent rainfall laid a foundation for even budding, uniform shoot growth, and sufficient water in the soil profiles to support growth.

“In September we experienced budding about 10 to 14 days later than usual.

“This can mainly be ascribed to wet and cold soil conditions.

The tempo for growth increased when we started experiencing warmer temperatures in October.

“Most vineyards are in the flowering stage, or just past flowering but we need to see how they set after the rain. The season looks promising, but a lot could change leading up to the harvest.

“The first official wine harvest estimate will be released in early December and so far prospects for the 2022 harvest are promising,” he said.

Meanwhile, the acting chief executive of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, Paul Hardman reported that South African citrus growers exported 161.6 million cartons of fruit despite a tough 2021 season.

This was an increase of 18.6 million cartons when compared to last year, and it was achieved despite an extremely difficult and complex season in which the entire industry was under severe strain.

“The sector faced a number of serious challenges including the global shipping crisis, and stringent additional phytosanitary measures by the EU that are costing the industry more than R4 billion annually,” he said.

He said, however, that while the remarkable efforts of stakeholders across the value chain meant that fruit continued to be exported throughout the season, this still came at a major personal and financial expense to everyone involved.

Fruit arrived way too late in some markets (in some cases by over a month) while there was an under-supply in regions.

As a result, the increased volumes of citrus exports in 2021 did not translate into higher returns for local growers.

He said that with these challenges in mind, the fact that the local industry achieved another record-breaking export season in 2021 was truly remarkable, and it was only possible due to the close collaborations and partnerships within the industry and with the government, and the extraordinary efforts of growers.

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