Although this is not the first time that Aussenkehr, Namibia has been featured in our newsletter, we are happy to shine the spotlight once again on this unique, arid, micro-climate zone which produces some of the earliest harvests in the Southern Hemisphere.
In this edition, we show some of our leading seedless grapes, ARRA™ varieties, which although grown on different ranches, share the same common thread of high quality, shape and yield.
The future is looking good
In week 42, the TopFruit team visited Aussenkehr and Noordoewer where as Stephen Nel, TopFruit’s table grape technical field officer reports, “The growers are all very excited to see how the ARRA varieties will perform this coming harvest with lots of new planting that will have their first production this season. All the growers did an excellent job on their farms and followed the protocols for the different ARRA varieties as suggested.”
ARRA 13 – Early Red Seedless Grapes
Aussenkehr is definitely the home base of ARRA 13. Its yield, berry size and colour is unique to this region and in 2017 the variety with the best income per hectare in Aussenkehr was ARRA 13.
This variety is known to be very fertile, very cheap to grow, with good shelf-life and excellent arrival. Although it strives to grow in the first two years, the bunches that hang in the sun do not burn.
If the weather and growth are good, only one thinning spray of 1ppm at 110% flower is needed and 1 x 15ppm for sizing spray at 5-7mm berry size.
The previous season the growers did not spray any Ethephon for colour, but they are thinking of spraying 1 x 250ml Ethephon for colour in order to pack the fruit quicker.
ARRA 14 – Mid Black Seedless Grapes
Another ARRA variety that has been adopted by the Namibian and South African growers, the ARRA 14 is rapidly making a name for itself as a fertile variety with minimal work and huge bunches, the advantage of the variety is that there is no cracking and no shatter. No thinning spray nor thinning work on the bunches are necessary, only shortening of the bunches. 1 x 15ppm for size at 5-7mm berry size and shortening of the bunches to 80-90 berries is needed. Two sprays of Ethephon is required to achieve full black colour.
ARRA 15 – Mid White Seedless Grapes in the Namibian Environment
The ARRA 15 crop in Aussenkehr and Noordoewer looks really exceptional, with no thinning work on the bunches required. The bunch sizes and crop loads are good.
A protocol which was proven to work the previous season was used by farmers again this season and is as follows:
1. The shoots must grow strongly until flowering, after which nitrogen application can be scaled down.
2. Reduce to one bunch per shoot before flower.
3. Thinning spray is not required except in cool weather and if the growth is not strong.
4. Sizing sprays – 5ppm GA3, must be sprayed between 5-7mm berry size.
5. Early bunch shortening, before pea size, to 60 berries per bunch. ARRA 15 easily produces a 10 gram berry, resulting in a perfect 600 gram bunch.
6. Do not exceed 58,000 bunches of 60 berries per hectare.
The growers have already adopted the protocol and the results can be clearly seen.
ARRA 29 – Early Red Seedless Grapes
Cape Orchard Company has the oldest ARRA 29 block which will be in full harvest this year. This variety is known for its beautiful fire colour, exceptional eating quality, excellent cold storage and its early timing.
ARRA 30 – Early White Seedless Grapes
Hillside, one of Silverlands Vineyards farms, has the first ARRA 30 blocks in production. 6.65 hectares of ARRA 30 were planted in 2016 as cartonnage vines. No thinning sprays were necessary because the variety has a natural loose bunch and no bunch work is required.
The success of ARRA production in this region of Namibia is down to the dedication of the growers and the expertise and invaluable input of TopFruit’s agronomist, Arnold Viljoen and Stephan Nel.
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