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Southern Hemisphere grape crops look good for Vanguard International

Vanguard International grape harvest and packing seasons are under way in Peru, Chile and South Africa. Peru and Chilean grape demand is particularly strong in Mexico, and increasing in Canada, the U.S., and Asia as California completes their “storage season.” Vanguard is seeing the first arrivals of grapes from their own ranches in Peru into various markets around the world and the results have been very positive season to date. Overall quality and condition have been very well received.

Peruvian Grapes
The Peru grape harvest for traditional red and green grapes will be completed by the third week of February, IP varieties will be completed by the end of February, followed by the organic grape harvest predicted to be completed the first week in March.

As of week 5, Peru has shipped 48 million boxes of table grapes, this is 6 million more than last season year to date. With the Piura crop complete, Peru is now projecting a total crop of 52-54 million boxes representing a 12 percent increase over the 2019-20 season.

A total of 14 million boxes of Red Globes have been packed season to date in Peru, which is 2 percent more than last year. The coming weeks are expected to show limited Red Globe production. Red Globes have been shipped to Colombia (675,718 boxes), China (2,163,152 boxes), U.S. (1.04 million boxes), Indonesia (422,280 boxes), Korea (188,520 boxes) and Taiwan (227,834 boxes).

Sixteen million boxes of Peruvian green seedless grapes have been shipped season to date, which is up 31 percent over last season. Sweet Globes are up 48 percent more than last season representing 60 percent of the total green seedless portfolio. The green seedless variety that has shown the largest decrease compared to last year has been Sugraone with 30 percent less shipments than last year.

Twelve million boxes of Peruvian red seedless have been shipped season to date, which is up 13 percent over last season. The varieties that have shown the most significant increases are Allison Reds with 141 percent and Sweet Celebrations with an increase of 51 percent.

South Central (Ica) has shipped thus far 14 million boxes of table grapes and are predicted to ship approximately an additional 12 million boxes over February and March. Overall, this crop is down 2 percent. The Northern Peru grape crop has finished harvest.

Chilean Grapes
In early February Chile saw devastating rainstorms sweep across the grape growing regions affecting the overall predicted crop size. In the central area of Malloa, 75 millimeters (three inches) of rain fell in less than 24 hours on Feb. 1.

The original estimate was 85 million boxes that has now been reduced to 65 million boxes for this year’s crop.

As of Feb. 1, Chile has shipped 4.7 million boxes of table grapes, this is down 39 percent from last season.

  • Region III is harvesting all colors now, including the Thompson Seedless Greens and Flame Seedless Reds. Region III has shipped 2.8 million boxes of table grapes.
  • Region IV is also harvesting all colors now and have shipped 1.5 million boxes.
  • Region V is showing more volume, harvesting and shipping Flame Seedless and Sugraones primarily.
  • Region VI is starting with Sugraones and with a very limited volume of Flame Seedless.
  • Metropolitan Region has starting with very small volumes of Arra 29.

South African Grapes
Olifants River
This area continues to have a solid year in terms of near perfect weather conditions. We are experiencing minor delays for Brix and color to develop on the red varieties. The crop conditions are very good with quality to match. First up will be the Red Globe, Crimson, Sweet joy, Allison, and Timson varieties. There are still two weeks of packing left before the area will taper down and finish the last week of February. No rain is expected for at least the next week.

Berg River area
The upper Berg River (Piketberg/Porterville) area is also reaping the benefits of ideal weather conditions for harvesting and packing. The last rain this area had was was weeks ago and there is no precipitation forecasted for the next week. Packing is delayed slightly by what seems like later varieties being even later than the early Midnight, Prime, and Early Sweet varieties. Brix is improving and this gives growers the time they need to work through some of the vineyards to prepare the bunches before coming to the packinghouse.

Over the next week we expect Autumn Crisp, Sweet Joy, and Crimson to be harvested. Scarlotta will start at the end of February and then it will mostly be CCS and Scarlotta until they finish in mid-March.

Hex Valley
A scattering of rain recently paused harvesting and packing temporarily. Luckily most growers already covered their grapes and packing went on as usual. Sizing is exceptionally good on almost all varieties and this is also pushing up the crop estimates on most farms in the Hex valley. Over the next week we can expect strong volumes from the Hex once again. Midnight Beautys are finishing up, and are being replaced by Sweet Joys. Sweet Sapphires will also be available from next week. Sweet Globes are also finishing up and will be replaced by Autumn Crisps within the next week. Also on the list will be Joybells, Sables, and Crimsons, which are just starting.

No rain is expected for this area over the next week as we reach peak volumes that will keep coming for the next four weeks.

Orange River
The Orange river area is finished for all practical purposes.

Despite the positive weather conditions, South African grapes are about 12 percent behind 2020 numbers, which is around 4.7 million cartons. With the Hex Valley set to peak it will be a key few weeks as we are just over the half way mark of volume for the South African grape season.

COVID-19 Implications
There ARE lots of challenges on the Operations/Logistics side of the business. It’s been extremely difficult to get containers to and from the port.  Due to COVID-19 infections on the rise in Peru much of the workforce are heading back to their villages as they feel safer at home. Despite the general labor challenges and delays, Vanguard has been fortunate to employ a loyal work force that allowed uninterrupted work periods to ensure produce is delivered globally.

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