South African navel quality is “ten times better than last year”, says a trader dealing with navels from the Eastern Cape, with very low levels of spoilage and quality problems, just some wind scarring, influencing packout percentages. The current cold temperatures across the country will be to the benefit of colour development.

However, navel calibres from across the country are smaller, placing pressure on smaller counts. The largest navels in the country come from the Sundays River Valley this year. Because the Middle East is a market for small fruit, they’re getting a lot of South Africa’s navels, placing the market under pressure. It doesn’t help that Ramadan was earlier this year.

The price-sensitive Far East market looks good at the moment and for traders who are exploiting other markets like Canada, the going is good.

In the Eastern Cape the navel season is about halfway through (not necessarily in terms of volumes), with about two weeks left on the navels and navelates. The Rand has been losing value against major currencies, which is an aid to South African exports at the moment.

Saved by the rain
The lemon campaign is stable, given the volumes going out. Earlier prices fell by a third but for the past month the prices have stabilised and started picking up.

Heavy rains in Argentina have impeded their lemon season and the Argentinian export increase of up to 30% wasn’t realised, to the relief and surprise of the South African industry.

In the Gamtoos Valley of the Eastern Cape farmers are fervently hoping that the rain and snow of the Western Cape will move eastwards. The Kouga Dam is the lowest it has ever been, at 7.8% full. Citrus producers in the Patensie area are very worried by the continuation of the drought. –