South African growers measure effects of rain, cyclone on crops

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South African growers measure effects of rain, cyclone on crops

South Africa's table grape crop is set to fall by around 3% due to recent rain in the Hex River Valley, while on the eastern side of the country citrus growers expect very little damage from a recent cyclone and wet weather.

A South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) release said at least five producers in the valley were significantly affected by severe thunderstorms on Jan. 18 and more rain on Jan. 19, with high winds causing some vineyard trellis systems to collapse.

The release said hail damage ranging from 5-60% was recorded in other blocks, and while it is too early for exact calculations, it is expected that around 500,000 (4.5kg) cartons were lost because of the storm.

This means that the industry's crop forecast has been reduced from 17.8-18.2 million cartons down to 17.3-17.7 million cartons for 2011-12.

Meanwhile, extreme weather has been recorded in South Africa's northeastern and eastern areas, but the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern Africa (CGA) does not expect crops to be majorly impacted.

"The sun is shining today (Friday, Jan. 20) in Hoedspruit after Cyclone Dando dumped the equivalent of the regions annual rainfall in one day – 380 mm in a day (annual rainfall 420mm)," says CGA CEO Justin Chadwick.

"Although this would have disrupted farming operations and damaged infrastructure, and impacted on some services, it is not expected to be a major influence on the regions 2012 citrus crop.

"Most growers have planted on ridges and the orchards are well drained.  In fact some would say that the trees have been well watered."

Chadwick adds that heavy rains also fell in the Onderberg Region, cutting off Crocodile River bridge access to the Kruger National Park.

"The Onderberg region received a third of their rainfall in one day, with 200mm recorded. As in the case of Hoedspruit there is anticipated to be little impact on the crop with the probable advantage of better sizing."

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