Apple crops in W Cape pulled through despite drought

The apple and pear crop in the Western Cape has pulled through despite the on going, debilitating drought.

The apple crop is expected to be up 3% from last year while pears are expected to break even. But farmers had to adapt to ensure fruit that will be acceptable to both the local and export market.

The province is the largest producer of deciduous or soft fruit in the country.


Water remains scarce as only 150 milliliters of the usual 600 millilitres fell during winter.

But Dicey says South African producers are highly adaptable and he took valuable lessons from the drought.

“We are a bit worried this year, we’re not out of the drought so we’ll continue with that and also what we’ve learnt is never give too much water because we know every year it could be the last bit that you get. So we will continue learning and doing the right thing as far as irrigation scheduling,” says Dicey.

Wolseley, Ceres and Tulbagh are slightly better off than the same period last year.

But in Grabouw, Elgin and Villiersdorp critically low dam levels are causing much concern for farmers.

The Deciduous Fruit Producers Association, Hortgro, says last year the trees took a lot of strain.

And it could take up to two years to recover.

Major economic fluctuations in the export markets will also impact on producers.

Exports into Africa, especially Angola which dropped by 90% in the last three years, could result in a tough season.

Hortgro’s Jacques du Preez says: “The stresses in the African economy are mainly based on oil, the weaker oil price. The main markets like Nigeria and Angola which used to be a big one, their buying power is significantly down and also their currencies are weaker against the dollar in which we trade of course.”

Du Preez says however South Africa still produces some of the best quality fruit in the world despite major challenges.

article courtesy of: SABC News – link