After minor early disruption, South Africa grape exports look strong
Mid-December rains across South African table grape regions will of necessity impact exports, particularly mature fruit that is heavily laden with sugar and ready for harvest, says to FreshFruitportal.com Mark Greenberg, president of Capespan North America, Inc., based in Montreal. But Greenberg says they “are not expecting a drastic decrease” in South African grape exports. South Africa’s heaviest grape arrivals run from January until late March.
South Africa’s Northern Cape province, which occupies a large portion of northwestern South Africa, is a substantial early table grape producer along with Namibia, the Atlantic coast country that lies to the north Northern Cape. This early grape growing region was already shipping its early fruit when the rains hit. The rain suspended the harvest and some fruit, close to maturity, will not be picked for export. “The rain will have a modest impact” on Northern Cape’s grape export volume which, due to other circumstances, was already expected to be down about 10 percent this winter anyway.
At the same time, vineyards in the Western Cape, which occupies Africa’s southwestern grape growing region, experienced uncommon early summer rains in mid-December. The Western Cape’s table grape harvest was just getting underway, when a drenching rain fell in the course of a few hours. The earliest maturing varieties will be most heavily hit but the mid- and late-season grape varieties will be largely unaffected and satisfactory for export opines Greenberg. That the rain was intense but over a short period of time mitigated the problems.
Greenberg said the South African table grape is primarily exported to the UK, Europe and Canada. Lesser volumes are shipped to the United States because of the rigorous phytosanitary USDA/APHIS requirements for entry into the United States.