“This positive outlook, linked to new plantings and new cultivars, brings the South African table grape industry back on its positive growth curve,” said industry body SATI.
The association said initial expectations are for a potential crop of 70 million cartons (4.5kg) or more, with the current record standing at 67 million cartons produced in the 2016-17 season.
“Given the hectares planted and the expected yield, the South African table grape industry is confident that it would return to its steady growth curve and has the realistic potential to yield a crop of 70 million cartons (4,5kg equivalents) and even more,” it said.
“This of course depends on a few critical factors such as favourable weather conditions before and during harvest, the availability of sufficient irrigation water, as well as the ability of producers and other stakeholders to optimise their systems to handle a bigger crop.”
Of the 21,000 hectares of vines in the ground, at least 5,400 were planted in the last three years, SATI said.
The organization said that despite the drought of the past few years, which mostly affected the three growing regions in the Western Cape, the better rains “points towards much better and near normal conditions for the coming season.”
“It is in the Olifants River in particular where a substantial improvement is expected, but similarly the Berg River and Hex River regions should benefit significantly from the current favourable water situation compared to a year ago,” it said.
“In the Northern Provinces and Orange River regions, which were not affected by the drought, good and normal yields are expected.”
The updated and online vine census, together with a concerted effort by SATI to have all producers update their current vineyard status, allowed for the most accurate ‘picture’ of actual vines in the ground, it said.
This forms the basis of the table grape industry crop estimates. The rest of the value chain, both locally and abroad, also rely on the crop estimates for their seasonal planning.
SATI plans to release a first season crop estimate in the second half of October