South Africa forecasts uptick in stonefruit volumes

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South Africa forecasts uptick in stonefruit volumes

South Africa has forecast greater stonefruit volumes in 2019-20, with apricots the only category expected to see a decrease.

Industry body Hortgro forecast apricot volumes 5% lower year-on-year at 545,000 cartons - below the three-year average of 691,000 cartons.

Nectarines should see the biggest percentage increase of 17%, growing to 4.7m cartons. The three-year average is 4.1m cartons.

Peaches are projected to increase by 6% to 1.9m cartons, which is slightly below the average of 2.1m cartons.

The forecast also pegged plum volumes 15% higher at 10.2m cartons, which is in line with the average of 10.5m cartons.

Hortgro said the stonefruit forecast indicates "improved volumes" to last season. But it noted the continued effects of drought in some areas and adverse weather during pollination has "impacted on the full potential".

"The past winter may have brought much needed rain to most parts of the Western Cape. Climatic conditions in the northern provinces were also favourable for good flowering and fruit set," Hortgro said.

"Unfortunately there are still parts of the Little Karoo (Ladismith, Calitzdorp to Barrydale) where a crisis situation is looming and where rain is needed urgently."

Explaining the stonefruit forecast

The lower apricot crop is largely because much of production is based in Little Karoo. The planted area has also decreased over recent years.

Hortgro attributed the nectarine increase to a more normal water regime, higher-yielding cultivars and young orchards coming into production.

Meanwhile, it said the peach forecast will likely come in lower than the three-year average in part due to older orchards being removed.

For plums, Hortgro said the year-on-year increase is mainly thanks to young orchards coming into production
and producers having more irrigation water available.

"The stone fruit industry is looking forward to the 2019/20 season and remains committed to supplying consumers with good quality and great tasting products," Hortgro said.

"Hortgro will regularly update crop estimates in order to keep all role players informed."

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