avocados

The Cape regions have already reported the planting of 1 000 hectares of avocados. Image: Pixabay

Western Cape becomes key avocado grower to feed the ‘off-season’

South African fruit growers are diversifying their operations, with avocado production on the rise in the Southern and Western Cape.

avocados

The Cape regions have already reported the planting of 1 000 hectares of avocados. Image: Pixabay

Avocados have become increasingly popular among fruit farmers in the Cape as producers search for new fruit categories to capitalise on.

Avocado production in South Africa has traditionally been concentrated in the warm sub-tropical areas of the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

Production has expanded to KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, and is now spreading to the Southern and Western Cape regions, mainly due to growing demand and for year-round output.

The Cape regions now contribute about 5% of the national crop, and have already reported the planting of 1 000 hectares of avocados, writes Fruitnet.

This marks a significant shift as growers explore different product categories across contrasting climatic regions. In some instances this is driven by climate change, while in others, it’s simply new territory.

Apples in Namibia?

Further examples of this is the development of apple varieties with low chilling requirements. This has allowed fruit growers in the north of the country and even Namibia to plant them.

These apples ripen earlier than traditional varieties, meaning they can be marketed earlier than normal.

Furthermore, the Cape, which is traditionally a dominant blueberry region, is seeing increasing competition from the north. This has enabled the industry to supply export markets over longer periods.

Once South Africa gains access to major consumer markets in India and China, the northern regions are expected to expand further due to their ideal location for supplying these markets through eastern ports.

A longer avocado season

With avocodo production spreading to the Southern and Western Cape regions, the harvest stretches from October to January. This gives growers opportunities to market their fruit later in the year and into the traditional ‘off-season’.

This has also made South Africa self-sufficient in avos for the local market.

“The Mediterranean climate in countries around the world are all avocado regions and it is natural that growers there will also plant avocados,” said Subtrop’s Derek Donkin.

Avocado orchards are now established in areas like the Helderberg Basin and Riebeek Kasteel, while Lourensford Estate has already planted 15 hectares of avocados.

The orchards at Riebeek Kasteel are still very young and for the time being, regions in the Southern Cape will dominate production.