The orange industry is facing a "disaster"‚ with up to 40% of navels dropping off trees in the Eastern Cape. A team from Citrus Research International in Nelspruit has been called in to investigate the problem‚ which threatens to halve the harvest. "In my 19 years in the industry‚ I have never seen anything like this‚" farmer Snyman Kritzinger‚ from the Gamtoos Valley in the Eastern Cape‚ told the industry website FreshPlaza. The loss of early and mid-season navels is expected to reduce exports of 15kg cartons by between 15% and 20%. The original export estimate for the season was 26.3-million cartons. "At first we thought the harvest might be 30% lower but now we’re thinking it might be 50% down‚" said Hannes de Waal‚ MD of the Sundays River Citrus Company. He said it was the first time in living memory something like this had happened on such a scale. Piet Smith‚ a producer in Citrusdal in the Western Cape‚ said while he had not seen a situation this bad‚ it was not as acute as in...

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