Despite Ficksburg's self-proclaimed position as South Africa’s Cherry Capital, the Free State might soon have to fight for its crown as Ceres in the Western Cape is increasingly getting a bigger piece of the cherry pie.
Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing, already known as the leaders in Top Fruit marketing as the largest provider of South African apples and pears, is now in its third year of delivering high quality cherries to local and export customers.
With harvest between mid October and mid November, the South African cherry season is a short one but, because of its proximity to the high-value Christmas season, this most festive of looking fruit delivers strong returns.
Managing director of Tru-Cape, Roelf Pienaar, said that despite the smaller than expected 2016 crop, down by about half year-on-year, Tru-Cape cherries were of a high quality and achieved good values. “The smaller crop was as a result of a challenging climate but despite this Tru-Cape growers produced beautiful fruit,” he says, adding that, “cherry varieties Sweetheart, Royal Dawn and Rainier seem to produce the best results in the Ceres valley.”
With cherries done and dusted until November 2017, Pienaar says that Tru-Cape growers are looking to the 2017 apple and pear season with much anticipation, “Volumes are more or less the same as last year,” he says.
Pienaar says that Tru-Cape has always maintained that a stable foreign exchange rate is what the industry needs.
“While the increasing oil price bolsters our trade in oil-based economies of West Africa and Middle East, the fluctuating South African Rand makes for an interesting season in the rest of our export markets. Globally there is a lot of uncertainty about the long term impact of the UK leaving the European Union, as well as the political change in the USA and the impact on global economies and currencies. In short, the stability we are all looking for may still be a while away. That said, geo-political issues impact growers and marketers around the globe and not just here so we’re in this together. Although water remains a key concern, the cooler temperatures when compared to the previous season, will benefit our apples and pears. We continue to see excellent growth potential on the local market and on the African continent, where Tru-Cape is demanded by name, so we head into 2017 cautiously optimistic.”