Global Update: Larger South African Lemons a Direct Effect of Heavy Rains

By Hari Yellina
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South African lemons have grown larger than predicted due to late and heavy rains, particularly in portions of Port Elizabeth, where significant citrus-producing districts are located. According to Leroux Venter, chairman of the Citrus Growers’ Association’s Lemon Focus Group, this suggests that farmers in the Eastern Cape have been selecting much larger lemons in recent weeks. Although early rainfall in September 2021 predicted a healthy crop for the 2022 season, a lack of it in the middle of the season hampered the growth of lemons that weren’t reaching their desired size.

Farmers in the Eastern Cape have been harvesting much larger lemons in recent weeks, according to Leroux Venter, chairman of the Citrus Growers’ Association’s Lemon Focus Group. “We started noticing larger fruit coming out of the orchards the last three weeks thanks to late rainfall in the Eastern Cape,” he said. Although early rainfall in September 2021 predicted a healthy crop for the 2022 season, a lack of it in the middle of the season hampered the growth of lemons that weren’t reaching their desired size.

Farmers in the Eastern Cape’s Sunday Rivers Valley Citrus Producers’ Forum, led by Hennie Ehlers, are advertising Russia as an export destination for the larger fruit, but are currently facing hurdles as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine. “Russia has been one of our marketing alternatives for this larger fruit, but as a result of the war, this market is currently under significant stress.” “The rain in the Eastern Cape has arrived just in time. He added, “Good crops were set, and fruit size is also at optimal levels.” The number of fruits a 15kg carton can hold determines the size of the fruit in the citrus business. A 15kg box should comfortably hold 100, 113, or 138 lemons; anything more is regarded too little. During the first pickings of the season, a 15kg carton may hold up to 162, according to Venter. “The late rains helped a little after the first fruit came off; now we’re at an 88 count,” he said.


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