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SA licence holder of Volcani's Aro table grapes -

Denau Holdings takes ownership of Plant Genetics

Plant Genetics, the licence holder for the Volcani Institute in South Africa, has come under the full ownership of Denau Holdings. The Volcani Agriculture Institute was established in 1921 and is Israel's national Agricultural Research Organization (ARO), the driving force behind Israel's internationally acclaimed agricultural innovation. In addition to the South African licence holder, the Volcani Institute also has licence holders in several other international table grape production regions.

The Institute’s relationship with Plant Genetics has existed for more than 15 years with annual visits. Popular table grape varieties from Volcani that are produced in South Africa are Prime and Starlight, which is a red mutation of Prime. According to the 2023 South African table grape vine census after Crimson Seedless, Prime is the second biggest variety in South Africa, with more than 1,500 hectares and Starlight is the 11th biggest variety, with more than 500 hectares.

The table grape genetics from Volcani's breeding programme are characterised by their early season ripening, as well as their medium to high rain resistance, both desirable attributes for table grape production in South Africa. There are several promising new varieties from the Volcani Institute’s ARO table grape breeding programme that are in various stages of evaluation and release in South Africa. These varieties include Exotic Pearl, Desert Pearl, Early Pearl, Mountain Pearl and Giant Pearl.

The shareholding of Plant Genetics previously consisted of Hoekstra Fruit Farms, Denau Farms, Oseiland Farms and JDK farms. Following the company’s establishment 2011, Hoekstra Fruit Farms under the guidance of the late Aat Hoekstra was the main evaluator and custodian of the Volcani Group varieties at Paarl in the Western Cape. However, in 2022 the company Denau Holdings, has taken full ownership and management of Plant Genetics and the Volcani Institute’s ARO table grape varieties in South Africa. In addition to the contract with Denau Holdings, the Karsten Group also currently holds a private contract with the Volcani Institute.

Denau Holdings is a 6th generation family-owned company that developed the export company Growers by Nature to integrate all marketing activities. Jaco du Toit who heads up the Growers by Nature Research and Development division manages and evaluates the Volcani Institute’s ARO table grape variety programme on his farm in the Hex River Valley.

The programme’s established evaluator Jan Siebrits is continuing with the evaluation process on behalf of Volcani and Growers By Nature while new Volcani selections are being imported for evaluation. In addition to existing evaluation sites in various South African table grape production regions, Siebrits is also assisting Growers by Nature to establish new evaluation vineyard blocks in the Hex River Valley.

Fanie Naude, Managing Director of Growers by Nature says, “Siebrits’ evaluation excellence and meticulous attention to detail are providing Volcani variety evaluation programme with the crucial continuity required through this transformation period.”

For more information:
Fanie Naude
Growers by Nature
Tel: +2723 357 9727
Email: [email protected]

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