The season officially started for The Grape Company as Schoonbee Landgoed commenced with harvest this week, with Early Sweet as the maiden variety of the South African season. Initial White Seedless volumes will be limited and we see the possibility of lower volumes compared to the previous year.
The Black Seedless grapes are developing fast and we can expect the first Sable Seedless towards Week 48. We are seeing an excellent bunch structure on the Red Seedless varieties and expect good size on the Flame Seedless. Dams are currently at 90% and we do not foresee any water shortages. When running at full capacity, this production unit creates over 2,000 job opportunities which is imperative for the surrounding community.
The harvest in this region will commence later that last year with first volumes only expected in Week 47. If there are consistently higher temperatures during the coming weeks however, we could see small volume by end of Week 46. With sufficient cool weather during the winter this production area is showing excellent growth. We expect volumes to be similar to the previous season and the quality of the fruit looks exceptional. The young vines and new varieties are also showing excellent growth and we’re excited for commercial production on the newer varieties. Water supply is not a concern for this area. The biggest challenge with commercial farming is the rising input and production cost. Therefore, the producers focus on preparing premium quality product to ensure shelf space in premium markets.
Overall the Western Cape is experiencing its worst drought ever. Production areas that are most affected will be the Olifant’s River region as well as the late Hex River region. The government has enforced level 5 water restrictions that will affect the metropolitan in terms of supply and cost. Single growers only received 30% of their annual water allocation for the coming season and that will have a direct effect on volumes from these production units. Grape Company producers are however implementing water management practices and preparing their crops for a normal season. A deficit in volumes may occur, although it’s too far away to accurately predict the outcome. The Western Cape production regions as an industry do however predict 20% lower volumes in general due to the drastic cut on water allocations. We experienced cool weather the past few weeks which may cause a 5 to 7 day delay in harvest. The producers are excited about the quality of the fruit and the structure of the bunches.
SOUTH AFRICA FUN FACTS
“The meandering 850km road through Cape Winelands is world’s longest wine route. Route 62 runs between Cape Town, Constantia to Port Elizabeth, via Oudtshoorn and the Garden Route, embracing 350 years of wine making as it passes classic Cape-Dutch homesteads, green mountains, 200 cellars and miles and miles of vines.”