The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) reported cold weather delays for grape production in several regions of the country this week, with harvest starting 5-7 days later than last year in the Orange River, Olifants River and Berg River regions.
Despite the small setback, initial crop estimates for the 2012-2013 season are on par with last year's output. SATI estimates between 53.8-55.1 million 4.5 kg equivalent cartons, compared to 54.65 million last year.
In the Hex Valley region, the largest grape producing area, early varieties are entering their flowering period and fertility is reported as average to good. Relatively cool weather persists.
In other regions, early variety harvests will begin over the next few weeks. Early Sweet is expected next week in Northern Province region, where cold weather in September brought heavier fruit than expected and forced hand thinning to avoid uneven sizes.
Prime grapes will follow in weeks 45 and 46, and Red Globe may enter an early harvest window as well.
In the Orange River Region, harvesting of early varieties should start in weeks 46 and 47. Vines are reportedly healthy and grapes good quality.
Prime, Flame Seedless and Starlight are in full bloom in Olifants River Region, with harvest beginning in week 48.
Exported South African grapes go primarily to Europe. In the 2011/2012 season, over 10 million cartons went to the U.K. and almost 30 million to Northern Europe.