April 9, 2024

Tru-Cape Producers in Western Cape Evaluate Storm’s Impact on Apple Harvest


In the orchards of Ceres and the EGVV area, situated within the heart of South Africa’s fruit belt, Tru-Cape’s pome (apple and pear) producers are grappling with the aftermath of a fierce weekend storm. Gale-force winds and persistent rains have prompted an urgent assessment of damages, though initial reports suggest that these areas may have been spared the worst.

Roelf Pienaar, the managing director of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, conveyed a cautious optimism, indicating that the full extent of the damage would be clearer in the coming days. “While we count ourselves fortunate to have possibly avoided the severe impacts seen in the Helderberg and Stellenbosch areas, our teams are diligently evaluating the situation,” he noted.

The timing of the storm has been particularly critical, coinciding with the harvest period for prized apple varieties such as Pink Lady, Rosy Glow, Granny Smith, and Sundowner. With more inclement weather forecasted, producers are on edge, hoping for a reprieve that would allow them to salvage much of their season’s work.

Compounding the agricultural challenges, the port of Cape Town faced disruptions, having been rendered inoperative by the high winds since Thursday, as Chris Knoetze of Link Supply Chain Management highlighted. The port’s operations hinge on the capricious winds, causing intermittent delays in shipments.

Laastedrif Agri, no stranger to adversity after a hailstorm earlier in February, found itself again in the throes of nature’s fury. Rossouw CilliĆ©, the farm’s proprietor, lamented the loss of apples and lambs, a testament to the unpredictable hardships of farming. Despite the setbacks, CilliĆ© remained hopeful, buoyed by the fact that a significant portion of the crop had been harvested before the storm.

In the Witzenberg Valley, Sakkie Hanekom’s farm, Slagboom, also felt the storm’s wrath, albeit with limited damage. Hanekom anticipates that the true extent of the damage, particularly bruising to the fruit, will only be revealed at harvest. His brother, Hannes, from Welgemeen Farm, echoed this sentiment, grateful that the orientation of their orchards mitigated the wind’s impact.

Elsewhere, in the Elgin Valley, Arno Reuvers of Two-A-Day reported minimal losses, a “miracle” given the circumstances. His farm, Heideland, along with Ben van der Merwe’s Fortuin in the Vyeboom region, faced the storm with resilience, welcoming the cooler weather for its beneficial effects on apple colouration.

As the Western Cape’s fruit producers navigate this challenging period, their collective resolve and adaptability shine through. The cold, while delaying harvests, is essential for the quality of the crop, a silver lining in the tumultuous weather pattern. With an industry so attuned to the rhythms of nature, the recent events serve as a reminder of the delicate balance between cultivation and the whims of the environment.