Mixed volume outlook for South African pome fruit
The South African Apple & Pear Producers' Association (SAAPPA) expects a challenging season with the effects of heat waves and drought, but new orchards coming on-line could spark slightly higher volumes.
In a release, SAAPPA said apple production would likely be up 3% year-on-year at 33.88 million (12.5kg equivalent) cartons this year, with pears down 2% at 14.99 million cartons.
The overall balance leads to a projected 1% year-on-year pome fruit volume rise to 48.87 million cartons.
"A challenging pome fruit season is anticipated on the back of extreme heat wave conditions and drought affecting certain production areas such as Ceres, Berg River, Northern Province and Free State," SAAPPA said.
"Also in areas with adequate water the heat wave conditions experienced since early December has impacted on fruit growth and hence fruit size on the early varieties is expected to be smaller," the group said, emphasizing that fruit quality, including eating quality, was still expected to be good.
SAAPPA said if these conditions continued it was possible the later season varieties could be in a similar position.
"The industry is however hopeful that the situation will improve. In drought affected areas and areas experiencing water shortages a drought management programme has been implemented regarding irrigation practices to mitigate risks and ensure optimal quality as far as possible."
While apple volumes have been pushed upwards by young orchards coming into production, pear exports could be lower due to fruit sizing on the Williams Bon Chretien variety and limited marketing options for smaller summer pears.
"The later varieties are expected to be in line with recent years," SAAPPA said with respect to pears.