“South Africa’s main apple and pear production areas in the western region had an excellent winter season with plenty of rain, snow and cold,” said Neil Truter, manager of quality assurance and grower relations at Vanguard South Africa. This was followed by very good flowering and setting times between October and December 2020. These favorable conditions are a good indicator of a strong apple and pear harvest this season.
The Western Cape had less wind and overall good weather conditions. Unfortunately, the Eastern Cape did not experience the same. In mid-January, a hailstorm raced through the Langkloof production area in the Eastern Cape. 1,500 of the 5,500 ha were affected.
“Overall, we are still forecasting an extremely positive apple and pear harvest for 2021,” said Truter. Like most other commodities, South African apple and pear crops are five to ten days later than 2020.
The first estimate of the apple and pear harvest forecast an increase in apples of four percent and pears by two percent. The volume of apples is growing for the second year in a row, largely thanks to the new planting. This is part of a comprehensive replanting and renewal strategy after the drought three years ago and was expected. For pears, this represents the two percent decline we saw last year.
The official estimates for the South African apple and pear harvest in 2021 are: apples: 38 million boxes; Pears: 17 million boxes.
All data show that this crop produces good color on both apples and pears. The early varieties are between five and ten days late, but the mid and late season apples are on time. “This will put pressure on packing houses and cold stores, but our South African partners have things under control,” commented Truter.
Smaller size on pears
The Early Bon Cretion made their way to the packing houses, but the size is small with peaks around 112/96/120. Two other pear varieties that are now being packaged are the flamingo and rosemary varieties, which are smaller in size than in previous seasons and top sizes very similar to the early Bon Cretion. The harvest of Flamingo, Rosemary and Early Bc’s was completed in the second week of February, while the normal WBC (Williams Bon Chretien) began in week seven. All of these varieties tend to be smaller than last year, which is usually an indicator of a larger overall harvest.
The selection of Packhams begins in week five or six. A much larger harvest is expected this year than last year, six percent to be precise. The growth is mainly due to new plantings and an overall cleaner harvest as there is less wind damage this year. The peak size is around 70/80, but this can change from region to region.
The trout is still a long way off with early packing from week 11/12. Judging by other earlier strains, we expect good production volumes.
The Panomara Goldens started in the first week of February and will soon be packed with top sizes between 150 and 165, which makes them a little bigger than last year.
The Royal Galas will be picked up on a large scale and packed in early March. The color is very good and the top sizes are 165/180. The color is similar to last year which was already a good color year. We expect a good quality product with a decent size.
Golden Delicious will also follow in March a week later, as we are five to ten days late.
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