In what has been described as a successful campaign on the whole that saw good returns for most categories, Southern African citrus exports have now surpassed the 2015 figure to hit a record this season. 

The total packed volume at the end of week 38 stood just shy of 120 million 15-kilo cartons (1.8 million metric tons),

surpassing 2015’s 118.4 million cartons.

The latest prediction has seen a decrease from 122.7 million cartons to 121.9 million. 

Due to a significant reduction in Navel volume related to fruit drop that was largely offset by increases for lemons, Valencias and soft citrus there was a decrease in the forecast.

Navel volumes have fallen by some five million cartons against initial forecasts to 21.2 million, while grapefruit ended up slightly higher than the projection of 15.6 million.

Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal, Citrus Growers Association (CGA) of Southern Africa CEO Justin Chadwick said that following the Navel fruit drop many had anticipated the final citrus export level to finish well short of the 122 million mark.

“At one stage people were talking about 112 million cartons as being a possible figure, but I think people didn’t realize the extent to which the lemons and soft citrus would increase,” he said.

“Then on the Valencia side the quality and packouts have been really good. The crop also came a week or so early, and that meant people could substitute Navels for Valencias.”

Chadwick attributed the rise in lemon and soft citrus volumes to new plantings coming on stream and the Valencia increase due to good growing conditions in the northern regions.