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Limited losses to apple crop due to stormy weather in Western Cape

Tru-Cape’s pome producers in Ceres and the EGVV area are currently assessing the damages and losses caused by gale-force winds and rain over the weekend.

“We are currently doing a damage assessment, but at the moment it seems as if our production areas weren’t hit as hard as the Helderberg and Stellenbosch areas. We will have more information in the next few days,” says Roelf Pienaar, managing director of Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing.

Apple varieties such as Pink Lady, Rosy Glow, Granny Smith, and Sundowner are currently or yet to be harvested. According to weather reports, some rain and cooler weather are expected for tonight until Wednesday.

According to Chris Knoetze, managing director of Link Supply Chain Management, the port of Cape Town has been wind-bound since Thursday. The port can’t operate when the wind speed exceeds 80 km/h.

“It is expected that operations will be on and off for the time being, as allowed by the wind.”

For Laastedrif Agri, it was an extremely difficult season. First, they were hit by hail in February, and over the weekend the strong winds caused havoc in their orchards.

“We are still in the process of determining the scope of the damage, but on parts of the farm Pink Lady and Rosy Glow apples were blown from the trees. We also lost lambs due to the cold and rain. But we farm under the open skies and have to find ways to live with these challenges,” says Rossouw Cillié, proprietor of Laastedrift Agri.

“Hopefully the damage looks worse than it is, and fortunately approximately 80% of our crop is already harvested.”

There was also slight infrastructure damage to a few roofs at Laastedrif Agri.

Pink Lady and Rosy Glow apples were also blown from the trees on Sakkie Hanekom’s farm Slagboom in the Witzenberg Valley. Juice-grade Golden Delicious apples were also damaged by the wind.

“The damage shouldn’t be more than 5%, but I suspect we will only see the real damage when we start picking the fruit, as bruising is sure to occur.”

His brother, Hannes Hanekom from Welgemeen Farm, agrees that the damage was minimal.

“Fortunately the wind came from the east, and our orchards are planted in a north-south direction, which helped to break the strong wind.”

Hannes estimates that the wind speed was more than 100 km/h at times.

Limited damage was incurred in the Elgin Valley, where Two-A-Day producer Arno Reuvers farms on Heideland.

“Less than 5% of our fruit was blown off the trees. It is a miracle.”

Their Pink Lady apples and the balance of their Granny Smith crop were hit the hardest.

“We experienced consistent wind speeds of 10 m/s (36 km/h), but thankfully not the gusts of wind that were reported in Somerset West and Stellenbosch,” he says, adding that wind and rain damage to the fruit and orchards were minimal on his farm, Champagne, in the Greyton area.

Slight bruising can be expected, but it will only be prevalent once they resume harvesting.

“We had about 24 mm of rain already, with the big rain still expected this afternoon and tonight,” says Arno, who is gearing up for another 60 mm of rain.

On the upside, rain and cold weather go hand in hand in the Western Cape.

“We need the cold for proper colour development on our Pink Lady apples. The only negative is that we’ll have to wait a few days for the orchards to dry out before we can pick fruit again.”

Another Two-A-Day producer, Ben van der Merwe from the farm Fortuin in the Vyeboom region, also welcomed the cooler weather.

“The cold weather is good for the colour of our Pink Lady and Sundowner apples. Colour development was challenging this season due to the warm, dry spell we experienced lately.”

He didn’t suffer any fruit or infrastructure damage over the weekend. Wind speed was predicted at 10 m/s to 12 m/s on his farm.

“We were very fortunate not to experience any damage. The rain is also not a problem; however, it will delay picking. We are currently busy with Granny Smith, followed by Pink Lady and Sundowner.”


For more information, please contact Lucille Botha at or visit Follow Tru-Cape on X (@TruCapeFruit), Facebook (@Tru-Cape Fruit Marketing) and Instagram (@trucapefruit).