South African citrus continues on road to recovery

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South African citrus continues on road to recovery

South Africa is expected to experience another positive year for citrus production in MY 2012-13, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported.

The world’s second largest citrus exporter, behind Spain, has been in recovery after hail storms dealt a blow to navel output around Groblersdal and Marble Hall in MY 2010-12.

Although it is still too early to tell, 2013 looks like a good year for South African citrus, thanks to good early rainfall and temperatures, and a weak Rand going into the start of the year. Exports should reach the 2012 level of about 1.6 million tons (MT).

Around 60% of the nation’s citrus goes for export, with about half departing from Durban.

South Africa has taken tactical steps to remain a top supplier in an increasingly competitive global market.  Producers are adopting in-demand varieties and improving management practices, the USDA said.

The tree census anticipated for January publication is also expected to indicate a slight increase in planted area. Growth comes in part with the help of foreign investment from companies like Sunkist and imports from U.S. retailers like Walmart, Costco and Whole Foods.

The nation has also benefited from growing markets in Japan, Russia and the United States.

South Africa was able to export grapefruit to the U.S. for the first time in 2010 when the USDA recognized the absence of citrus black spot disease in several growing areas.

For grapefruit, strong output of about 410,000 MT is forecast for 2012-13 as a result of good rainfall, new trees and higher yields following low 2012 production. South African grapefruit output cycles through alternate yields; a low year will be followed by a high year.

2012-13 grapefruit exports are forecasted at 220,000 MT compared to 192,000 MT in 2011-12.

Oranges also expect a slight production increase with 1.5 million MT compared to 1.45 million MT in 2011-12. Exports should rise slightly as well due to good weather and a weak Rand, with 1.1 million MT up from 1.07 million MT.

Soft citrus production, such as tangerines and mandarins, is expected to come in at 160,000 MT with stable exports of 115,000 MT.

Lemons should come in at 270,000 MT. Exports are expected to be strong complemented by a poor showing from Argentina. They are forecasted to increase to 175,000 MT, up from 160,000 MT.

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