South Africa’s Senwes area is the second largest lemon production region in the country with an estimated 4.5 million 15kg cartons expected this season. Schoonbee Landgoed, between Groblersdal and Marble Hall in the Senwes citrus production region, started their lemon harvest two weeks ago.

Gert Upton, Schoonbee marketing manager says their first lemon harvest will run until week 22 or 23, and the second will follow at weeks 26, 27 and 28. The Senwes lemon harvest follows after the early lemons from Limpopo and comes before the start of the Sundays River Valley, the engine room of South African lemons.

Gert Upton expects what could be a difficult lemon season. In fact, he foresees a difficult couple of years ahead. “In South Africa there are more lemon blocks not yet in production than ones that are already producing,” he points out. “This year the total for the industry is estimated at almost 21 million cartons. After the intensive planting of the past few years, I think in future there’s going to be sifting out on the basis of quality, consistency of supply, window of supply and sizing,” he says.

Apart from lemons, at Schoonbee Landgoed they’re currently packing Clementine (Nules) and Novas, with the mid-season navel harvest due to start this week (ending 11 May 2018). Because of the youth of many of their soft citrus blocks, the impact of tree immaturity on fruit quality is still a challenge, albeit year-on-year a diminishing one.

“With soft citrus the age of the trees is a big factor. In the case of Clementine (Nules) the trees have to be at least seven or eight years old, which makes it a very expensive tree but it is a much sought-after cultivar because its sugar has to be above 9 brix, otherwise it is marketed as an ordinary Clementine, unless it has seeds, in which case it is a tangerine.” – Fresh Plaza

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