Eriophyoid mites (erios for short) are the smallest of all mites, with adults around 0.5 mm long. Their small size makes it difficult to spot them in the field, even with a good hand lens. They are sporadic pests that cause serious damage during outbreaks. Usually, erios are found because of the symptoms they cause – bud deformation, rusting or galling, depending on the species. Some erio species live on plants without causing symptoms at all.
Around 1,000 tonnes of citrus is to be distributed to disadvantaged communities this year Leading South African citrus company ClemenGold International has said that it is teaming up with a relief organisation to deliver some 1,000 tonnes of citrus to help alleviate the plight of people in some of the country’s poorer communities. “Caring for the communities surrounding our partner farms and packhouses has been a value upon which we’ve acted since the establishment of our business,” explained Adéle Ackermann, marketing manager for ClemenGold International.
“Fruit is our business and donating Vitamin C-rich citrus is a logical way of contributing towards helping communities to thrive.” The company has announced a partnership with SA Harvest, a registered non-profit and leading food rescue and hunger relief organisation, whereby 1,000 tonnes of citrus will be donated during the 2023 season.
With the latest of a series of winter storms sweeping over the South African Western Cape region, citrus and other fruit growers are facing a difficult period of recovery. For the last ten days all citrus harvesting in the Oliphant’s River Valley, the most important region supplying summer citrus to the US, has been suspended. Infrastructure in the Valley and in other parts of the Western Cape has been damaged, with key roads washed away and communities in rural regions flooded.
The winter storms in these regions have been described as the worst since 2008 when floods rose to record levels in places. It comes when significant volumes of South African citrus are due to be discharged in the US later this week, marking the real start of the marketing season. Significant volumes have also been shipped by containers since April. Industry leaders said that before the storms started enough fruit had been packed for the first three vessels, but that their departure could be delayed.
Summer Citrus from South Africa (SCSA) has entered its 25th shipping season with the first fruit arriving in the US towards the end of May.
Despite recent heavy rainfall in the Western Cape and in Citrusdal, where SCSA’s growers are primarily located, the group said it was reorganising after days without electricity, and a lack of access to citrus groves and some roads.
Despite the challenges and a minor setback with timing, SCSA promised that high-quality fruit was on the way weekly for the rest of the summer.
Rain is still falling over Citrusdal where food has had to be flown in by helicopter to stranded inhabitants after the town’s entrance road was washed away, and now the remaining electricity line has also fallen victim to the flood. It is expected that the rain will ease off from Wednesday. In the port of Cape Town very high swells have meant that vessels couldn’t enter the harbour; there are currently three vessels waiting to come into port.
Repairs to the town bridge over the Olifants River which was washed away are underway, including correcting the course of the swollen river.
The price of orange juice will be going up again after Florida farmers produced the smallest citrus crop in nearly 100 years . It was a tough year for the state’s orange trees, which were hit by bad weather and an epidemic of greening disease, which causes the fruit to be bitter. According to analysts, the US will not be able to lean on Brazil for more oranges, as that country’s production was also affected by bad weather.
Since orange production in Florida has been declining in the past decade, some farmers there are considering switching to other crops.
Up to a quarter of South African oranges destined for the European Union (EU) might not be shipped due to the impact of load shedding, in addition to new EU regulations – posing a potential loss of more than R500 million for local farmers this year. This warning went out from the Citrus Growers Association of South Africa (CGA) on Thursday. More than 400 000 tons of SA oranges were shipped to the EU in 2022. The citrus export industry supports 140 000 jobs and generates R40 billion in export revenue annually.
South-easterly winds coincide with the first 12 weeks after mandarin petal drop. When these winds become more intense between October and December, they can cause up to 87% of the severe wind-scar damage seen in a season. However, says Heinrich Geldenhuys, such losses can be minimised with suitable windbreaks or other forms of wind protection, resulting in higher export volumes of quality fruit. Geldenhuys is a junior researcher who graduated in April 2022 with an MSc in Horticultural Science degree from Stellenbosch University (SU).