• The scientific dispute between the EU and the South African citrus industry has again resulted in stalemate as the latter’s three proposals to manage citrus black spot (CBS) in a more financially and environmentally sustainable manner were summarily rejected.

  • Citrus producers in the southern part of Zimbabwe have asked policymakers and authorities to fast track the implementation of export measures. Their main focus is on removing non-tariff trade barriers. Farmers in Beitbridge revealed this during a visit conducted by ZimTrade, the country’s export promotion body.

  • A South African citrus producer not only managed to bump up its production by 40% through new acquisitions this year, but also bolstered its successful black workers’ economic empowerment programme in the process. 

  • It’s cooler and wetter in northeast Limpopo than it has been for a while after rain this weekend but the Tzaneen Dam in the Letaba River is nevertheless lower than last week, a discomforting 12.7% full. The Middle Letaba Dam stands at about 6% (and hasn’t been close to capacity in a long time).

  • It’s not raining enough in the Eastern Cape and it’s definitely going to have an impact on volumes, citrus growers say. By the end of February there will be more certainty on what can be expected from the citrus season, but across the Eastern Cape – in the Gamtoos Valley, Sundays River Valley and inland in the Kat River Valley – the mood is cautious.

  • In recent months, there has been a big crisis in the citrus production sector, especially in the case of oranges and mandarins, with prices falling below the production costs and plantations left unharvested.

  • South African citrus production is forecast to continue its strong growth in the 2018/19 MY, due to an expanded planted area, favorable weather conditions and strong demand.

  • While growers in South Africa’s early production regions are getting ready to pack their first fruit of the 2019 season, industry leaders are gathering around the country to discuss the major challenges facing them.

  • Exclusive to Farmingportal.co.za and Agri News Net- 
  • Following bumper lemon and mandarin plantings, South Africa is expected to export a record 137 million boxes of citrus fruit to more than 100 countries this year – the second record year in a row.

  • If I were to be asked to name one word I used more extensively than any other this week, it would be confidence.

  • As the popularity of citrus exports spikes in South Africa, many local farmers are replacing their grape vines with lemon, mandarin or lime trees in an effort to cash in on the trend.

  • Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa, spoke about the challenges and triumphs of SA’s citrus industry at the recent Citrus Summit.

  • The South African and Zimbabwean citrus season is about to start. “Most growers wanted to start this week or last weekend, but the harvest has been delayed somewhat because of rain. However, if the weather stays dry, harvest and packing will start this week, and the first boat loaded with a fair volume will depart next week,” says commercial manager Tjeerd Hoekstra of Total Produce in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Harvest in line with 2017
    “South Africa expects a good harvest for both Valencia oranges and grapefruit. Compared to last year, the harvest will be lower, but last year’s harvest was exceptionally large. This year, the harvest is expected to be in line with 2017, or maybe even a bit higher,” Tjeerd explains. “Last year was strange, with a lot of kilos and small sizes, particularly in grapefruit. This year, people expect volume will mostly consist of sizes 40-45.”

    “An exception to the good harvest are the Navels in the Sunday River Valley in the Eastern Cape. This production can’t be made profitable, and the area is decreasing. The volume of category 2 of these trees is considerably high. That’s why a lot of these Navel trees are being grubbed up and replaced with different varieties,” the importer continues. “In South Africa, a lot of lemon and Valencia varieties are still being planted. The boom in the planting of Nadorcott tangerines is now passed its peak.”

    Empty grapefruit market
    Regarding sales, Tjeerd predicts a fair start to the season. “Grapefruit will be arriving on a relatively empty market in any case. The Turkish season is now ending, and the volume on the market mostly consists of very large fruit. The Moroccan supply is also limited, so the first grapefruit will be arriving on a good market. I do hope we’ll start with realistic price levels, and not like last year, when we started with levels that were too high, it would lock up the entire market. If we start with more realistic prices, we’ll have a better circulation, and stocks won’t become too high.”

    “It’s too early to make predictions about the orange sales. However, you can see that Egypt’s position on the market is getting larger and larger. That could be worrying for South Africa considering the expected expansion, particularly if they manage to extend shelf life. The Egyptian oranges are currently being sold on the market at incredibly low prices,” Tjeerd says. “The false codling moth (FCM) and citrus black spot (CBS) will remain a point of attention, particularly after the rain in the north of recent weeks. Fortunately, South Africa did very well regarding CBS, with just a few interceptions.”

    Fixed prices elsewhere
    Besides, the European market is no longer the first priority of South African exporters. “Everyone is working hard on gaining access to other markets, where prices are supposedly fixed. Because of this, the volume for Europe decreased in recent years. Unfortunately, at the same time it can be noticed that they need Europe to lose volume of the final Valencia, for example, when other markets are full. Export volumes then increase, but that doesn’t necessarily mean quality increases as well. All in all, it could be said that doing business with South Africa is changing for importers,” Tjeerd concludes.

  • The European Commission’s Director of Trade Defense, Leopoldo Rubinacci, has reportedly said that Brussels will study the possible activation of the safeguard clause in the trade agreement with South Africa amid an ongoing crisis in the Spanish citrus sector.

  • While expectations for the South African citrus export forecast were high at the Citrus Growers Association’s (CGA) summit early last month, with the nation predicted to send a record 137 million boxes overseas, some in the industry have warned that exports may be lighter than previously anticipated.

  • South African citrus growers in the Western and Northern parts of the Cape region are gearing up for the start of their 2019 export season to the US.

  • Chile has forecast a 3% drop in citrus exports for the 2019 season, with clementines responsible for the biggest decline.

  • The serious problems suffered by the Spanish citrus sector are not only due to circumstantial causes arising from competition from third countries, but they also have revealed structural challenges that Spain must address.

  • Duty-free access to the U.S. market is one factor in rising production and exports of South African citrus, according to a new report. The rising popularity of easy-peeling mandarins and clementines is another.