Cape Town apple producers assess losses after gale-force winds

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Cape Town apple producers assess losses after gale-force winds

After damaging weekend winds in the Cape Town area, apple producers in Ceres and Elgin, Grabouw, Vyeboom and Villiersdorp, are still assessing the damages and losses caused by the storm. 

The latest wind bursts might result in significant damages for the country’s apple sector. The Western Cape province accounts for 80% of South Africa’s apple production. Some apple varieties like Pink Lady, Rosyglow, Granny Smith, and Sundowner are in the process of or yet to be harvested. 

In 2023, South Africa was the commodity’s fifth largest exporter worldwide, with 625 million tons of apple exports.

According to Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, the areas that suffered the most were the Helderberg and Stellenbosch areas. 

In the Western Cape, Laastedrif Agri is still in the process of determining the scope of the damage. According to the proprietor of Laastedrif Agri, Rossow Cillié, 80% of their crops were already harvested, but some Pink Lady and Rosyglow apples were blown from the trees due to the weather. The producer also suffered slight infrastructural damage. 

The hit to the apple and pear industry comes after a positive season forecast from Hortgro in January 2024. The harvest season came earlier than expected, with an expected increase in apple exports of 7% to 46.4 million 12.5 kg cartons.

Cape Town port delays and other impacts

Apples and pears might not be the only sector suffering due to adverse weather. Citrus is currently in season and ready to be exported but, according to Chris Knoetze, MD of Link Supply Chain Management, the port of Cape Town has been closed since Thursday due to wind speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour.

According to the Citrus Growers Association, the Durban area in KwaZulu-Natal province also saw impacts from the severe weather system but the repercussions were not as severe as in the Western Cape.

South Africa is the second largest citrus exporter in the world. In 2022, South Africa exported $1.85B in citrus. Its main destinations are the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Russia, UAE, and China. 

Severe weather warnings have led to school closures, infrastructure damage and power outages. 

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