The weather during the pomegranate growing season this year is expected to prolong the harvest period, with flowering coming in patches. At this moment, there is around 50% bloom, caused by the very hot weather in the spring, mixed with cold days in between. Despite the harvest delays, Elrita Venter from Freshness First, said that volumes are not expected to decrease.
Pomegranate production in South Africa is grown on around 1,000 hectares. The most commonly grown varieties for export are the Wonderful and the Acco varieties.
New hectares of pomegranates are being planted all the time and many producers have been looking to the new early varieties coming from Spain, which are currently under evaluation. Production is expected to increase in the coming years on the back of the new varieties and advances in technology.
“We are really focused at getting a higher quality fruit into the market at the moment. There are advantages in terms of new production techniques and processes, such as trellising systems to keep the trees more stable and protect them against scratching and sunburn.” said Elrita.
Middle East attractive for SA
“Europe remains the largest export market for pomegranates. The rand has been fluctuating and the Euro has also been going down, we will just need to wait and see what the situation is in February when we harvest. It is not easy to predict, as a lot can happen in the meantime. The market is positive and we are still busy building up our reputation and demand is growing.” shared Elrita.
Freshness First has its own pack house so it can pack and sort its pomegranates for export, which have been increasing to the Middle East.
“I think that the Middle Eastern market is quite positive and definitely a good option. Pomegranates from South Africa are gaining in popularity and the Middle East is becoming more important to us.” shared Elrita.
New water restrictions for Cape area
The water shortage in the Cape area continues and water restrictions were implemented as of the 1st of November. The restriction means that hose pipes and automatic sprinkler systems are no longer allowed.
Elrita said that, although pomegranates are quite hardy, they need about the same amount of water as citrus and can be affected by the restrictions.