Table grape farmers worry about drought | Fin24
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Table grape farmers worry about drought

Oct 05 2017 06:00

Cape Town - The South African Table Grape Industry (SATI) is concerned about the impact of the severe drought in the Western Cape, but it still expects its 2017/2018 harvest to be in line with the five year average. 

The average crop size from the 2012/2013 to the 2016/2017 seasons is 57.9 million cartons.

Although certain producers and areas most affected by the drought are likely to be significantly impacted, the effect at a national level is less pronounced, SATI said in a statement.

A climatically diverse industry, increased hectares in production, the shift to higher yielding grape varieties and the "resilience and adaptation" of table grape industry all helped keep crop yields from plummeting, it said.  

Water scarce

According to Michael Laubscher, chair of SATI, the industry realises that South Africa is a water scarce country. Therefore, everyone has a responsibility to be water wise.

In this regard SATI hosted seminars at the end of September in the three table grape growing regions in the Western Cape - the province most affected by the drought.

While table grapes are resilient plants, enough water is needed during its different and critical growth stages, he said. 

SATI traditionally releases its first crop estimate at the end of October, when the early production regions have commenced with packing. Given the drought conditions in the Western Cape, a detailed estimate would, however, only be released early November.

SATI CEO Willem Bestbier, said SA producers would still be able to deliver excellent quality to export markets during the coming season.

“We are in close contact with the Western Cape Provincial Government as the table grape industry is particularly vulnerable due to its reliance on irrigation. It makes a huge contribution to the employment and economy of the Western Cape and the country,” said Bestbier.

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