South African frosts mean job and volume loss for grape sector
Frosts in South Africa's Orange River region could mean losses not only to grape volume but to employment as well. Around 15,000 seasonal workers are expected without work this harvest season as a result of what has been described as the coldest frost in 126 years, farmersweekly.co.za reported.
Orange River Agricultural Union manager Dirk Krapohl told the South African publication that an estimated 800 hectares of table grape vines were affected.
"Although this represents only about 15% of the region’s table grape production, there are individual farmers who have lost 80% of their crop," Krapohl said
Job losses for the table grape sector are estimated at 4,000 workers, Krapohl said. Volume loss is currently estimated at 2.5 million cartons worth US$25 million.
Damage to Thompson Seedless ranged from 30% to 80%, the publication reported. The impact on the crop is expected to decrease raisin production by 1,580 metric tons. Seasonal job losses for the sector were estimated at 9,520.
Wine grapes experienced lower loss since budding had not yet begun, according to Orange River Wine Cellars' agriculturalist Henning Burger. An estimated 600 hectares out of 4,000 were affected. Job losses for this sector could reach 1,200.
Krapohl said better estimates would be available in four to six weeks.
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