The South African fruit export season is gaining momentum, with stone fruit and table grape growers having started their seasons earlier than last year. The first pears of the season have also been harvested and are expected to be shipped from Cape Town this weekend.

IMG_5900-099Well-know Villiersdorp packer, Betko, says it will ship its first pears to Europe this weekend. Betko’s suppliers in the Vyeboom/Villiersdorp region have started their pear harvest of 2015. The early Bon Chretien pears will be arriving at the state of the art Betko Pack House just outside Villiersdorp and will be packed from Thursday onwards

Marketing executive Roux Groenewald has confirmed that the first fruit will be shipped from Cape Town to Europe on Saturday. “The Bon Chretien harvest always starts the beginning of our new season, although we have not quite finished the marketing of the previous crop. We will be packing some Golden Delicious during January to finish our previous season’s packing programme.”

Mr Groenewald described the previous season as good, but challenging and said Betko was looking forward to a good season.

IMG_6090-266Betko’s own farms, belonging to the Japie Groenewald Trust, will provide around 70% of the company’s volume. The farms are located along the Sonderend River, which provides the ideal climate for red apples in particular. Boosted by new plantings of the best varieties, Betko’s volumes are expected to show further growth in 2015.

The company will also be able to use its new modern precooling and loading facilities from the start of the season, which will increase the company’s capacity for CA storage.

Meanwhile a bit of unseasonal rain disrupted not only the international cricket match between South Africa and the West Indies at Newlands in Cape Town where most Capetonians are still in holiday mood as the watch the traditional New Year’s weekend fixture. Table grape growers in Paarl had to slow down their harvesting and packing following the overnight rain. Grape growers do not like rain in their season and they normally have to stop packing when this occurs to allow the vineyards to dry out.

The Paarl growers started their season before Christmas because the harvest is up to 10 days earlier than last year. Meanwhile, in the Orange River the harvest will now enter its final stage, with peak packing expected to continue for another two weeks.Despite earlier predictions of perhaps a record crop, growers say they expect the total crop in the Orange River to be short of last year’s. However, the weather has been great and growers believe that it is an excellent quality year.