Inexorable rise of South African orange production

Tue 09/08/2022 by Richard Wilkinson
South Africa remains top source of citrus imports to EU © Eurofresh Distribution

Fresh orange production in South Africa is forecast to grow by 6% to 1.6 million tons in 2021/22, according to USDA data. This boost is based on the growth in harvested area and above-average rainfall throughout the season in the main growing regions. The latter has ensured that there has been sufficient irrigation water and has provided conditions conducive to growth.

The production and yield of oranges have grown marginally since 2017/18, due to industry shifts to soft citrus production. South Africa is forecast to be the eighth largest producer in 2021/22 behind Brazil, China, the European Union, Mexico, the United States, Egypt, and Turkey, continuing a trend of the past 7 years.

The orange area harvested is forecast to grow by 2% to over 43,000 hectares in 2021/22, from 42,360 hectares in 2020/21, based on the increase in area harvested of seedless orange varieties and late-maturing varieties. This rise will be partially offset by the industry shift from orange production to soft citrus in the Western Cape and Limpopo growing regions. Limpopo is the leading growing region for oranges, accounting for 48% of the total area planted, followed by the Eastern Cape (26%), and Western Cape (15%). Valencia oranges account for about two-thirds of the total area planted and Navel’s account for the other one-third. The predominant variety planted is the Midnight, accounting for 25% of the total area planted, followed by Valencia Late and Delta. 


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