Even smaller grape harvest expected

CAPE TOWN – The wine industry, which is already struggling because of severe drought conditions in the Western Cape, is predicting an even smaller grape harvest than had been previously estimated. The local wine industry is the ninth-largest producer of wine in the world and is said to contribute 4% to global production.

South Africa currently exports 440 million litres of wine annually and sells 400 million litres locally. A second crop estimate of the grape harvest in the second week of January predicts a much smaller harvest that previous estimates published at the end of November 2017. This is possibly the smallest since 2005.

Consultation service manager for wine industry body Vinpro, Francois Viljoen said at the weekend that the declining trend predicted in the past two months could be attributed to warm and dry conditions that occurred in early December.

Drought conditions have been prevalent in the Western Cape for the past three years, with major dam level at about 26.6% full compared with 41.6% I 2017. Most producers depend on water from the various irrigation schemes. Water quotas have been cut by 50% to 80%.

“This available water was not enough to meet the needs of the vineyards at this stage,” said Viljoen. This will affect berry growth.

“Smaller berries mean a lighter harvest with lower juice levels, which contribute to lower volumes,” he added.  This drought would hit producers hard financially

Photo Credits – TOP FARM

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