Green - Apple Growers Fear Climate Change
Apples are one of South Africa's key agricultural exports, but growers are seeing more and more sunburnt fruit - the result of global warming.
Western Cape orchards found that higher temperatures and a prolonged drought are causing higher than usual incidences of sunburn. They had to compensate with sun-blocking netting, increased irrigation, and some are considering switching from traditional varieties to unfamiliar ones that can withstanding the increased UV rays and hotter, dryer conditions.
"The prices weren't very good, both domestically and for export, while the apples themselves were smaller and lighter. Quality wasn't what we would've liked. The fruit is dry and the shelf life will be shorter," said Barry Hose of AR Fruit in Villiersdorp. "It was a season full of surprises, not an easy season."
"It was a pretty dismal season for us," says Doug Osler of Lone Tree Farms in the Free State. "We lost 90 to 95 percent of our harvest and of what remained, the quality was affected. We only put through a third of our usual volume through the packhouse. Fortunately another producer who packs with us, had a record crop this year on his side."
About half of South Africa's is destined for import, mostly to Europe and the UK, plus Asia.