This season’s apple harvests for South Africa are at optimal levels. The main issue in exporting, however, is projected to be complications in logistics arising from COVID-19.

Harvest Estimates for 2020
After three years of lower output, apple production returned to normal levels in the 2019/20 MY, due to normal winter weather conditions and improved measures by farmers to mitigate drought. The 2020 apple harvest had been predicted to be relatively normal. South Africa is forecast to produce 35.7 million cartons of apples, which is 6% more than last year’s harvest.

In South Africa, The Golden Delicious cultivar is the most planted variety, accounting for 23% of the total area planted, followed by the Royal Gala cultivar at 17% and Granny Smith at 15% . Other cultivars that have been growing steadily are the Pink Lady (11%), Top Red (10%), Fuji (9%), and Cripps Red (6%). Beginning in May, Golden Delicious and Cripps Red are in the harvest season.

Export Outlook for 2020
The impact of COVID-19 to the 2019/2020 MY production is expected to be minimal as South Africa has harvested most of the fruit, and since the agriculture sector was classified as an essential service. Operations are continuing throughout the national lock-down.

However, the export of apples is estimated to decrease by 2% to 480K MT in the 2019/2020 MY, from 489,973 MT in the 2018/19 MY. This is mainly due to depressed demand in global markets, interruptions in the supply chain such as bottlenecks and closures at some ports, limited availability of containers, constrained shipping capacity. – Tridge