November 29, 2015 / Week N° 48

Citrus and stonefruit unharmed by South Africa’s localized floods

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August 13th, 2012

South African citrus and stonefruit growers are confident snow and floods in the country’s south just over a week ago have left their fruit relatively unscathed.

There was localized flooding in the Western Cape’s Knysna, George and Mossel Bay areas with villagers living in St Lowry’s Pass evacuated. The Eastern Cape’s N6 road, which passes Queenstown and Aliwal North, was also closed.

However, fruit producers claim they were largely unaffected due to the fact most of their orchards were further inland.

Fruits Unlimited managing director Hans-Christian Muylaert-Gelein, said less than 5% of stone fruit in the south of the country was starting to flower.

“It’s actually been cooler and flowering has been delayed. Obviously with all the rain and the cold it is not ideal but no one is really stressing about it.”

Cape Five Export technical director Ian Adamson, agreed the bad weather had not caused too many issues.

“From a decidious fruit point of view most things are still dormant. Early stonefruit is in blossom but as long as there are sunny days in between it’s not too much of a problem.”

He said that plums, peaches and nectarines are starting to flower but even with poor weather insects only need to pollinate 1% of flowers for a crop to happen.

Adamson added 95% of citrus in the Western Cape had already been harvested, explaining that if the wet weather had come a month earlier or a month later it would have had more of an impact.

Ideafruit procurement and marketing officer Wynand Viljoen, said orchards in the Eastern Cape were relatively unaffected thanks to the region’s strong dams, strengthened three to four years ago in the wake of bad flooding.

“I don’t think there will be too much damage, there might be a few trees that will die because of plantings close to rivers.”

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