Hail damage shows impact on South Africa stonefruit exports

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Hail damage shows impact on South Africa stonefruit exports

South African stonefruit exports came up 6% short of the previous season but still managed to beat the three-year average by 4%.plums_ffp

For the 2013-14 season, Hortgro reported total stonefruit exports of almost 16 million cartons. Plums accounted for a great majority of this volume with 10.5 million cartons, down 7% from the previous season.

Peaches performed the best in terms of percentage growth, climbing 14% over the previous year, up to 1.6 million boxes.

Hortgro highlighted the impact of hail storms and adverse weather on plum and nectarine orchards in Ceres and Klein Karoo, noting a greater impact on fruit quality than on quantity.

"Prolonged spring conditions and rain during the harvest season influenced the quality and volumes of the crop. Despite the above mentioned conditions an above average crop was realised. The adverse weather conditions did however prove to be very challenging on fruit quality," Hortgro said in a press statement.

For nectarines, down 5% to 2.9 million cartons, Hortgro said the impact of poor weather was offset in part by 150 hectares of orchards that came into full bearing for the 2013-14 season. Several varieties experienced notable growth in export volume, including August Red (+11%), September Bright (+32%), Sunburst (+66%), Diamond Ray (+54%) and Superstar (+40%).

Peaches, the only category to experience growth, were given a boost by varieties such as Temptation (+145%), Transvalia (+31%) and Ambercrest (+45%).

For the hardest-hit category, plums, exports were driven by major cultivars such as African Delight (+38%) and Songold (+7%).

For future seasons, Hortgro said growth prospects are positive. An estimated 25% to 30% of stonefruit orchards in South Africa have not yet reached full bearing.

In terms of marketing, Hortgro said focus remains Eurocentric, although the industry is working to improve access to the Middle East, Far East and Africa.

For nectarines, the U.K. remained the biggest export market. The U.K. also represented South Africa's largest peach market for the first time, overtaking the Middle East. For plums and apricots, Europe and Russia comprise the largest import region for South Africa.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com


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