First ever South African bred raisin cultivar launched

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The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) of South Africa, together with Raisins SA and Culdevco Pty Ltd, hosted a cultivar information day at Carpe Diem Raisins, where they celebrated the release of ‘Sundowner’ – the first ever South African bred raisin cultivar to be commercially registered with South Africa’s registrar of plants.

Over the past three decades, the dried fruit industry and the ARC partnered in a breeding and evaluation research initiative, which invested in a raisin cultivar development project. The latest grape cultivar Sundowner came out of this. The name Sundowner was suggested as it depicts the reddish blush on the ripe berries, which resembles the sunset. 

Some characteristics of Sundowner:

  • Good quality raisin above 80% choice grade.
  • Ideal for sun drying.
  • Medium to strong growth.
  • Sweet, natural taste.
  • Berries are crunchy and delivers fleshy raisins.
  • Consistently produces a tonnage above 30 ton/ha.
  • Ripens +/- 1 week earlier than Sultana H5.

A few key facts:

  • South Africa is the 5th largest producer of raisins worldwide.
  • South Africa is by far the largest producer of raisins in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Over 90% of raisins are produced in the Northern Cape, the driest province in South Africa.
  • The raisin industry’s contribution to GDP in 2019 was in the region of R4,1 billion (mostly in forex).
  • Raisins expanded from 34 856 tons in 1994 to an estimated 74 830 tons in 2019.
  • Raisins support 30 110 jobs in South Africa, including over 16 079 unskilled workers.
  • Raisins SA is known worldwide for excellent quality raisins and related products.

For more information on Sundowner and over 150 other ARC owned deciduous fruit cultivars, contact Prof Bongani Ndimba at NdimbaB@arc.agric.za or the breeder/evaluator, Andries Daniels at DanielsA@arc.agric.za. The Sundowner raisin cultivar can be ordered directly from Culdevco or SAPO. Phone 021 887 6823 or send an email to orders@saplant.co.za. – Press release, ARC