Initial expectations are looking promising for the new SA stone fruit season. Good winter and spring conditions contributed to overall good quality, size and sugar levels. Possible water shortages in certain production areas are a cause of concern for later varieties and water and irrigation management will be crucial to ensure that the crop’s potential is realised.
Due to young orchards coming into bearing, as well as beneficial climatic conditions, it is projected that export volumes for nectarines (+4%), peaches (+5%), and plums (+3%) will increase. There has been a steady increase in the area planted to nectarines, peaches and plums over the past number of years which contributes materially to the increased volumes.
The area planted to apricots destined for the fresh market has been relatively stable and exports is expected to be down slightly due to lighter fruit set in the Klein Karoo production area. This area accounts for 65% of total fresh apricot plantings, resulting in a projected 3% decrease in export volume compared to the previous season.
New and exciting cultivars are the main drive in the growth of volumes and expands the range of SA stone fruit to a more balanced offering which extends the season and ability to service market demands.
The harvesting season for early nectarines and peaches already started with the early season being 7 days later compared to last year. It is expected that as the season progresses, timing should normalise.