Caution the order of the day for South African citrus exporters

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Caution the order of the day for South African citrus exporters

With a "five strikes and you're out" policy from the European Union in place on citrus black spot (CBS), and pressure from Spanish grower groups to tighten citrus import rules, the South African industry is taking an increasingly cautious approach in 2014. shutterstock_97050998 grapefruit

The numbers speak for themselves. According to data released by the Citrus Growers Association (CGA) of Southern Africa, the number of orchards voluntarily withdrawn for EU export to date stands at 1,186.

This is more than 10 times last year's estimated figure of 112 for the same period.

The removal represents 7.2% of total orchards, and as a result there have been fewer rejections by the country's Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF).

CGA also has also highlighted the work conducted as part of a continued roll-out of its comprehensive citrus black spot risk management system (RMS).

"Specifically, South African growers have tightened up on their pest and disease management. Considerable resources and effort have been used in strengthening the RMS," the association said.

"Continuous improvement of the RMS has seen a dramatic reduction in interceptions – with interceptions now less than 0.3% of consignments shipped to the EU. This clearly indicates that industry and DAFF are managing the risk."

"CBS has a definite window of infection (basically October to end January); growers have ensured that orchards have been thoroughly treated during this period. All orchards applying for registration for the EU market are inspected by DAFF, as are their treatment records and management programs."

The association said 1.5 million out of the country's expected 1.7 million cartons of satsumas have been packed, with attention starting to turn to clementines.

"The traditional markets of UK and northern Europe have absorbed most of this supply. Lemons exporters continue to keep out of the EU – with exports concentrated on Middle East, Russia and Asia," CGA said.

"Grapefruit packing is gaining momentum, and after the last of the shortened work weeks now behind us, are expected to increase with greater momentum.

"Lemon harvesting is fairly evenly spread between Sundays River in the south and the two northern regions (Senwes and Hoedspruit). Grapefruit harvesting is concentrated in the northern regions, while soft citrus harvesting has predominantly been in the Eastern and Western Cape."



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