The district of Thabo Mofutsanayana in the Eastern Free State is at the beginning of its 2017/2018 apple season. Hein Punt of Maluti Fruit in Bethlehem says the season’s fruit is very good and even though there was hail a number of times, the fruit is not affected.
Eastern Free State growers are keeping an eye on Cape weather, not so much for the rainfall outlook but for a drop in temperatures that enables colouring. Volumes from the Eastern Free State are increasing through a 10% year-on-year growth in new plantings that exceed the replacement ratio. Hein went on to say, “The most important limit to apple expansion in our area is water availability. Maize [corn] and potatoes under irrigation are two of the crops that are being replaced with apples”.
All the apple growers in this area have received high ratings in their SIZA (Sustainable Agriculture in South Africa) audits and Maluti Fruit was the first packhouse in the Free State to be SIZA-accredited. – Fresh Plaza