The history of apples in South Africa is explored in new book


In their new book, The Newcomers and their Friends, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing apple and pear experts Buks Nel and Henk Griessel explore the more recent history of apples in South Africa. The book, a companion to Apples in the Early Days at the Cape, where the authors explored apple varieties older than 100 years, is now available as an e-book.

Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing’s managing director Roelf Pienaar says that each year the company, the largest exporter of South African apples and pears, marks 17 April as the anniversary of the fruit industry, following the picking of the first apple at the Cape on this date in 1662. “This year we used this auspicious date to launch a new book.”

He says that rather than a dry, academic work, The Newcomers and their Friends reads like a fascinating whodunnit, uncloaking some of the interesting and sometimes controversial histories of varieties. The stories are enriched with charming illustrations by Amy Botha.

Sparking enthusiasm for the history of apple breeding

The authors write in the introduction: “We hope the information in this little book will spark enthusiasm to record information and history about the apples grown today – we should never again have to find ourselves with records from only a handful of local sources.”

The new book, The Newcomers and their Friends. explores the local history of apples.

They write about the artist and Stellenbosch fruit breeder Iwan Labuschagne, who led the Apples for Africa programme and developed low-chill apples (fruit that doesn’t need the icy temperatures of Europe to blossom), and some of the resistance he received from growers who feared his apples would compete with theirs. 

They also detail the history of the Braeburn apple, with a final note saying: “The story of Braeburn would not be complete if one did not mention its importance as a breeding parent in so many breeding programmes around the world such as Kanzi, Jazz and Envy.”

Henk and Buks planting the Witte Wijnappel at Heritage Orchard.

They also share the story of John Ernst Lane Cripps, who was born in England in 1927. He crossed a Golden Delicious with a Lady Williams while working in Australia. The seedling was none other than Cripps Pink, a trailblazer not just because of its colour and eating quality, but also as an example of one the most successful apple trademarks today, Pink Lady®. Want to know where the latter got its name? The answer is in the book, along with the recipe for the Pink Lady cocktail, among others. 

Commitment to the local fruit industry

In the preface, Pienaar recognises the writers’ passion and commitment to the South African fruit industry, saying: “At Tru-Cape our focus has always been to add value to the grower. The key catalyst for change in the apple industry is the profitability of certain varieties. This is a dynamic process as markets and consumers drive this change. We have learned that to know where you are going to you must know where you have been. This book is another step in that direction. We are proud of Henk and Buks in all that they do.” – Press release, Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing

Tru-Cape will announce when hardcopies of the book are available. The link to purchase and download the e-book is at and