Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

The drought has slashed apple exports by 9%‚ says fruit industry body Hortgro. Pear exports are down 6% on 2016.

Now there are fears about the 2018 season as temperatures remain high and rainfall low.

"We might run into trouble now if it doesn’t start raining soon and a lot‚" said Hortgro’s general manager for trade and markets, Jacques du Preez.

"The ongoing drought will have a negative knock-on effect on next year’s crop. The degree just has yet to be determined‚ but the trees have taken stress‚" Du Preez told industry website FreshFruitPortal.com.

A decrease in export volumes of Golden Delicious (down 11%)‚ Granny Smith (20%)‚ Pink Lady (29%) and Fuji (16%) apple varieties was due to weather conditions‚ Hortgro said.

"As soon as they started packing the fruit and putting it into cold storage we realised that in general the volume is smaller‚" said Du Preez.

The Far East is the leading export market so far this season‚ having received about a third of exports. Volumes are up 10%.

"We’ve seen a decline in the UK and Europe‚ and the only ones that really saw an increase are Russia and the Far East and Asia‚" said Du Preez.

"Africa normally takes fruit up to December of this year‚ so it will still add up."

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