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The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) released the first crop estimate for the 2020/21 season. Intake volumes are estimated to be between 65 and 69,8 million cartons (4,5kg equivalent). This signals an expected return to normal industry volumes and reflects marginal growth in hectares planted over the past six years.

The northern region is expected to start harvesting a week later than usual. Indications are that the Orange River region will start harvesting approximately five days later due to cooler spring weather. It is still too early to predict exactly when the remaining three South African production regions based in the Western Cape will start harvesting.

Providing quality table grapes

According to SATI chairperson Fanie Naudé, the focus will be on providing quality table grapes from South Africa as these grapes are an essential part of a healthy diet. Local producers are ready to meet the increasing worldwide demand for healthy fruit, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The basis of the crop estimate is supported by the latest vine census, which reflects the South African table grape industry’s response to market preferences through the investment in new varieties. The new varieties give rise to the accelerated replacement of older-generation varieties with new-generation varieties. A larger percentage of young vines across most of the production regions currently do not bear or are not in full production yet.

Crop estimates are done in co-operation with growers and industry experts representing all the production regions. SATI will use this structure to be more responsive to in-season developments and deviations. The estimate in Table 1 was reached by considering the best available information, experience and observations, the latest industry vine census and historical data.

Table 1: First crop estimate for the 2020/21 season (million 4,5kg equivalent cartons).

Grape volumes will be identical to previous years

Expectations for the first half of the South African table grape season up to around week four is that volumes are not expected to be higher than in previous years. This is due to the extended colder conditions in the Orange River region, resulting in a slightly later start than expected.

A return to a normal table grape crop is expected for the three Western Cape regions, especially in the late Hex River region where unseasonal rain during the previous season caused substantial losses.

It has to be noted that approximately 60% of the total crop comes from the mid-to-late Berg River and Hex River regions with further updates from this region to be expected in a second crop estimate towards the end of the year. The Olifants River Region received plenty of winter rains with a full recovery expected for this region. Fresh Plaza