In a press release, the Cape Town-based producer and exporter said it’s on track to meet its 2017 grape harvest deadlines and volume targets and expects to exceed last year’s figures by nearly 400 000 cartons.
“The overall production on our six table grape farms in the Northern and Western Cape are on schedule. I believe we’ll reach our estimated production target of 1 336 456 cartons. Last year, SAFE consigned 937 433 cartons,” said Dries van Rooyen, SAFE general manager of Farming Operations.
According to the press release, the harvest season is nearing its end in the Orange River area, with 90% of the grapes already in their cartons; the picking and packing process should be completed within the next week.
In the Western Cape and Trawal areas, 60% of the harvest has been finished, with five more weeks of picking and packing left.
The fluctuating temperatures of December and January caused a 10-day delay in the ripening process.
“Last year’s warmer-than-average winter led to slightly smaller than estimated harvest volumes in early areas – such as a 10% decrease in the Orange River area’s white cultivars. This resulted in excellent flowering and bearing, and a return to normal volumes for the later cultivars,” said Van Rooyen.
SAFE’s farms, of which three are Fairtrade accredited, produce 31 varieties of white, red and black seedless and seeded grapes on a little over 800ha, with 40% of cultivated areas under nets and 27% planted with vines younger than three years. Altogether 89% of the crop consists of seedless varieties, according to the press release.
SAFE exports to the EU, UK and the Far and Middle East and is establishing nine new table grape varieties, including the seedless Sweet Celebration and Allison, which are also scheduled for export.