Stonefruit started early this year at Kasteelberg Vrugte, at the foot of the eponymous mountain in Riebeeck-Kasteel, and it looks as if table grapes could follow suit, says Lila Vlok, chief operating officer at JL Vlok Fruit.
“We start in December with our grapes, when the stonefruit is ending. We were already packing the first stonefruit on 8 October this year and exporting two days later. At the moment they are packing Suplum25, while also busy with nectarines,“ she says.
Polar Light and Naledi, a Stargrow nectarine cultivar, are harvested at the moment. Packing of Sunect 21 finished a week ago, while Alpines still need to be packed. Their stonefruit is exported by Delecta and In2Stone.
The recent port worker strike temporarily affected the sailings of export stonefruit; the domestic market easily becomes saturated with stonefruit.
Peach orchard in blossom
There is high overseas demand for stonefruit meeting the specifications. Lila notes that the export market likes varieties with high sugar and eating quality.
"The stonefruit yield is up, with slightly smaller fruit: an average size 23 on the nectarines. Plums are generally peaking on size AA.“
Photos supplied by JL Vlok Boerdery
Second season of new red seedless Desire
Through grape exporters Suiderland Plase and Southern Fruit Growers, JLA Fruit markets and sells a red seedless grape cultivar called Desire.
During the previous season the cultivar was on the shelves of retailers like EDEKA and Lidl.
The citrus season was difficult with shipping costs rising by 200%, becoming incredibly expensive, and alongside increased packaging costs (up by 30%) and very expensive labour costs.
"The challenge is that the prices offered by overseas retailers remain the same – and on farming level, you’re struggling to keep up with the costs,“ she observes.
Johan Vlok Jr, third-generation farmer in the farm's vineyards in Riebeeck-Kasteel
JL Vlok Boerdery also grows olives, supplying the deli on the Het Vlock Casteel estate, where the olives are cured, pressed and preserved along with around 200 different lines of bottled fruit by the mother-daughter team of Ansie Vlok and Ansie Nigrini.