November 19, 2023

Du Toit’s Innovative Approach from Orchard to Global Markets

At Du Toit’s advanced cherry packing facility, a marvel of modern agricultural technology, an impressive six tonnes of cherries are packed every hour. This facility, which began operations last year, has quickly become a cornerstone of the region’s agricultural talent. The facility’s efficiency was on full display on 1 November when Cherry Time™ opened its online orders to the delight of South African cherry aficionados.

Tanith Freeman, Du Toit’s horticulturalist and product development manager, expressed her amazement at the rapid transformation of cherry trees. “It remains a miracle each year,” she said, referring to the eight-week journey from blossoming trees to ripe cherries ready for picking. “This process, while fast, leaves little room for error, underscoring the meticulous care and precision required in modern horticulture.”

During the Cherry Time™ launch, Freeman shared her passion for cherries with guests, highlighting the dedication and care that goes into each tree. “Walking through the orchards is an absolute pleasure,” she remarked, emphasizing the team’s commitment to nurturing each cherry to its fullest potential.

Cherry Time™ isn’t just a local treasure. They’re highly anticipated in the UK and Europe, with shipments planned via both air and sea. This international demand speaks volumes about the quality of Du Toit’s produce.

This year’s winter, described by Freeman as the coldest in over a decade, played a crucial role in the cherries’ development. The colder weather, significantly chillier than the past twelve years, provided ideal conditions for the cherries, despite some challenges in springtime pollination due to inconsistent weather.

The success of Dutoit’s cherry crop is also a testament to their long-term collaboration with international breeders. This partnership has enabled them to select cherry varieties best suited for local conditions, particularly those that thrive without the long, cold winters traditionally required for cherry cultivation.

This innovation extends beyond genetics to farming practices. In Worcester, for example, Dutoit has developed techniques to grow cherries in warmer conditions, including unique irrigation strategies to simulate the freshness of rain, which is scarce in the summer.

As the season progresses, the cherry crop from Worcester will be complemented by harvests from the Warm Bokkeveld orchards and the higher altitude Koue Bokkeveld, showcasing the diverse climatic adaptability of Du Toit’s cherry varieties.

Dutoit’s state-of-the-art cherry packing facility and innovative agricultural practices not only highlight the advancements in modern horticulture, but also signify a promising future for cherry cultivation in South Africa and beyond.