The harvest in South Africa will be in full swing in December. According to Robert van Melle, the country can be divided into two when looking at the grape production. “In the north of South Africa, near Orange River and the border with Namibia, it’s looking well,” he continues. “Namibia is also expecting a decent harvest. In the south of South Africa the situation is different. Due to protracted drought, they now have a shortage. Some growers are choosing to dig springs. Others choose to only provide the high-quality varieties with water. The water is then led to better vines, and the lesses vines, which in many cases were already on the list to be replaced within the next two years, are not watered.”

The Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) predicts that the harvest of table grapes around Western Cape in South Africa will decrease by 14 per cent to 287,000 tonnes this year and next year. It’s not just the harvest that’s expected to be smaller, the size of the grape will also be smaller this year compared to last year, because of drought in the country. This decline is partially compensated by varieties in the Orange River region. Due to normal production and growing circumstances, the harvest in that area amounts to 344,000 tonnes.

The most important varieties of table grapes in South Africa are Crimson Seedless, which amounts to 24 per cent of the total harvest. Prime is 9 per cent of the harvest, Thomson Seedless has 8 per cent, Flame Seedless 7 per cent, Sugraone 6 per cent, Redglobe 6 per cent and Sugrathirteen has 5 per cent. Demand for grapes in South Africa has changed in the past decade. Consumers eat seedless grapes more, so that seeded grapes are grown less. Seedless grapes are grown more often now, according to figures from GAIN.

It is expected that the export of table grapes in 2017/18 will decrease by 15 per cent to 258,000 tonnes, from 304,000 tonnes in 2016/17. Of all grapes, 75 per cent is sent to Europe. South Africa is a strong player thanks to their large quantity of seedless grapes, but also because the country can easily trade with Europe. About 12 per cent is shipped to Asia, 6 per cent to the Middle East, and 4 per cent to Africa. The amounts sent to the US and Canada also continue to increase, although that is only 3 per cent of the total, according to documents from GAIN.

Robert van Melle, – source: