Apple harvest fairly strong after summer’s lash

Local apple exports are almost ready to roll off the conveyor belts following extensive measures to prevent extreme weather conditions such as heat and hail from damaging the crop.

Royal Gala harvests are reportedly very strong and so are red apples, with packing in the Free State leading the way well clear of the Cape.

Various orchards in South Africa’s eastern interior have spoken of progressive strategies to curb harsh conditions, such as soaring temperatures said to have been around four degrees higher as 2018 drew to a close.

Netted covering of most orchards has not only protected harvests against destructive hail storms but has also provided shaded shelter from scorching temperatures.

Meanwhile, unseasonal cold spells in some of the country’s eastern-most areas have resulted in “small and scruffy” apples from farms in Ermelo, Amersfoort, Volksrust, Carolina and Morgenzon.

Hein Punt of Maluti Fruit Packers said the Free State yield, although generally good considering summer’s effect of harsh heat and heavy hail, was also average-sized fruit.

As for surplus supply, buyers are said to be concerned about depleted cold storage levels matching demand in the run-up to the year’s first exportable batch of apples.

Currently, incoming fresh stock is only provided by orchards from Limpopo and some very early Panorama Goldens further down south.

The latter, however, are often too sour to secure strong sales.

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