SA grape harvest underway

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SA grape harvest underway

South Africa's table grape season has experienced a two-week delay but growers are now harvesting in the Northern Province, Orange River and Olifant's River regions.

A South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) report shows exports to the end week 46 were following a similar pattern to the 2009-10 season, although figures were about 3% higher at 80,960 (4.5kg) cartons.

The delay means total exports to the week were down 92% on the 2010-11 season, but SATI expects comparative cumulative shipments will level out as the season progresses.

The industry body reported weather conditions were 'perfect thus far' in the Northern Province, but the lateness of the season and a lack of sugar accumulation meant less than half the growers had started packing.

Some parts of the Orange River region like Klein Pella and Onseepkans began packing in week 45, while packing for Prime and Flame Seedless grapes started in Blouputs during week 46.

Volumes for these varieties were expected to hit their peak in Orange River during week 47 and this week.

"Some farms in the Augrabies and Kakamas area started packing in Week 47, with most farms in this area, as well as some farms in the Kanoneiland area, planning to start packing in Week 48, with the rest of the region following in Week 49," the SATI report said.

"The quality is excellent with excellent colour on the early Flame Seedless due to cool temperatures at night that prevailed the past few weeks. The weather condition for harvesting is excellent."

Prime grape harvesting in the southern part of the Olifant's River region was expected to start towards this week, while Vredendal harvests are set to begin next week and in week 50.

Harvests in the northern part of the Berg River region are due to begin in weeks 51 and 52, while SATI says the quality of early varieties is looking good at this stage.

SATI says it is still too early to predict a harvest date for the Hex River Valley, but bunch development is going very well and vineyards are looking healthy.

Related story: SA grape growers predict a good season for exports

Photo: SATI

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