Favorable weather drives uptick in SA stonefruit forecast
A big volume push from plums, peaches and nectarines is expected to raise South Africa's stonefruit volumes by more than one million cartons in 2012-13, according to industry group Hortgro.
A Hortgro report outlines estimated growth of 7% to 16.579 million cartons, with the highest percentage growth coming from peaches (12%) and nectarines (10%).
Plums will continue to be by far the largest crop accounting for 60%, and while growth will be lower at 5% this still equates to just under half the total volume growth with 483,229 more cartons of the fruit.
It is worth noting as well that plum cartons are larger at 5.25kg (11.57lbs) equivalent, compared to peach and nectarine cartons which weigh in at 2.5kg (5.5lbs).
"With favourable winter conditions, enough rain for initial growth and filling of dams and adequate chilling units for good bud-break, the South African stone fruit industry is looking forward to another season of excellent export volumes," the report said.
"Export volumes for plums have been growing significantly the past couple of seasons, and the coming season is not estimated to be any different. Laetitia and Songold, the cultivars with the largest export volumes in South Africa, are not expected to show significant growth this season.
"Instead the growth is expected to come from some of the fast growing (area planted) cultivars, such as African Delight, and African Rose."
The report highlighted while peaches should be the fastest grower this is from a smaller base of just 1.197 million cartons last year, compared to nectarine production of 3.5 million cartons in 2010-11.
"Cultivars that make a large contribution to this growth are Rich Lady and Jim Dandy, with large estimated increases in volumes from a relatively high base," the report said.
"Nectarines experienced a jump of one million equivalent cartons (2.5kg) from the 2010/11 to the 2011/2012 season, and is estimated to grow another 10% to 3.9 million equivalent cartons this season.
"August Red makes a substantial contribution to this growth, with Alpine not estimated at much higher volumes than the previous season."
Apricots are South Africa's smallest stonefruit crop and should come in just under peach volumes at 1.32 million cartons, representing a growth rate of 3%.
"There is only limited growth in the cultivars that make up the bulk of exports, with the largest growth percentages coming from the relative small volumes of the Suapri cultivars."
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