This week, we bring news fresh off the grapevines in Namibia directly from the field where the ARRA Varieties and Early Sweet™ harvest are currently underway in the prolific grape-producing region of Aussenkehr.  

Grapa Varieties Ltd first introduced its Early Sweet™ variety into Namibia in 2006. Since then the ARRA™ range has followed. The first of the ARRA™ varieties planted in Namibia is the well-known ARRA 15 (ARRA Sweeties™) and ARRA 13 (ARRA Passion Star™). Due to their impressive characteristics, more than 150 ha of ARRA 13 have been planted so far as well as 200 ha of ARRA 15. The entire ARRA range totals to over 620 ha in Namibia. Today 50% or more of the seedless table grapes planted in Aussenkehr are ARRA Varieties and Early Sweet.

Early Sweet

The extreme climatic conditions, where summer temperatures can reach 50 °C (122 °F) in the river valley, provide the area with an advantage over other production areas, as Aussenkehr’s table grapes can be harvested three to five weeks earlier than the rest of the South African regions. To date, there are more than 300 hectares of Early Sweet planted in Namibia and this season’s harvest once more proved to be very fruitful for our Namibian growers.

Elize Van Zil, Solar Grapes' General Manager, proudly holding a bunch of Early Sweet during the very first day of harvest on October 27th.

This year, Solar Grapes had another record head start, beginning its harvest with Early Sweet™ two weeks before the rest of the valley, on October 27th, 2020. These early vineyards are situated in Solar’s “Horse Shoe Valley” an area with warmer winds coming through from the desert and long days of sunshine. These vineyards form part of the 130 hectares development which Solar Grapes planted in 2017 along with all the other ARRA Varieties.

Early Sweet Field packing on ORVI farm.

The Early Sweet season at ORVI started a little later this year due to the extended cool weather during the month of September but it has now reached its full capacity. Due to the climatic condition, the berries are really heavy and strong and the bunches look beautiful.

Training before harvest: a beautiful shot of the ORVI team under Early Sweet vines right before starting their day.

ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15)

The Namibian packing season started 10 days later than in 2019. So far the crops look excellent reaching their optimal berry size and color development thanks to warm days and cool nights.

Sweetness worth sharing! ARRA 15 in Capespan's field on its way to ripening.

The cooler season so far has been very good for berry size and bunch development. The harvest of this exceptional ARRA 15 at Capespan will start at end of week 48. Showing great promise, the crop for vines in first-year production are expected to produce 2500 cartons of 4.5 kilos per hectare and approximately 5500 cartons per hectare for vines in their 3rd year.

ARRA 15 on ORVI's farm also appears to be a big success also this season.

Andre Vermaak reports: “ARRA 15 harvest at ORVI will start the 4th of December, an absolute great timing for the market demand, and so far the berries look simply amazing reaching 23 to 27 millimeters in size. The strong bunches will surely have a great shelf life post-harvest”.   

The ARRA 15 harvest kicked off in the Solar Grapes‘ fields and Tanja Vasiljevic, Director, Marketing and Logistics at Solar Grapes reports: “Last week we harvested our first ARRA 15 blocks and we were delighted with the size and quality of these older vines”. Tanja adds: “We are gearing up to harvest our ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom™) any day now and we can’t wait to tell you how it will go!”.

ARRA 13 (ARRA Passion Star™)

Packing at Capespan Namibia is in full swing in all 3 packhouses as well as their field pack operations. ARRA 13 crop looks fantastic for both, Capespan and Frontier Grapes with an above-normal volume expected. ARRA 13’s yield, berry sizing and self coloring never disappoints, making it a unique variety and extremely successful in the arid and semi-arid climate of Nambia and South Africa.

ARRA 13 at Capespan: the volume expected this season is 5500 cartons of 4.5 kilos per hectares on full bearing blocks. The first bunches will be harvested during week 49.
Capespan's Director, Kobus Bothma, on the right with Gideon Nuunyango, Namibian Grape Company's Managing Director.

ARRA 15 and ARRA 13 have provided Namibian growers with a respectable return on investment. Producers indicated that these two varieties are their highest income earners. These varieties are also well known amongst the trade and customers and Namibian Growers are very content with these “flagship” ARRA Varieties in Namibia.

Impressive ARRA 13 crop for Frontier Grapes. Murunga Kashoro, Production Manager, proud of this year's harvest.
ARRA 13 (ARRA Passion Star™) and Tanja Vasiljevic, Director, Marketing and Logistics at Solar Grapes.

ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom™)

The mid black variety ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom), grown mainly in Namibia and South Africa, has this season, reached very exceptional berry size, desired bunch development and has already fully developed its color. This 2020 harvest at Capespan is expected to start from week 49. 

ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom™) from Capespan.
Brix is almost there and the Solar Grapes ARRA 14 harvest is just around the corner.

ARRA Passion Fire™ (ARRA 29)

Arnold Viljoen, Table Grapes Manager at TopFruit says ARRA 29 (ARRA Passion Fire™) will be the ARRA variety that will make the biggest impact during this Namibian season. “Its impressive shelf life, colour and berry size are outstanding, and it will open the Southern African season in the overseas market with a bang”.

ARRA 29 harvest will begin soon in ORVI's fields.

Impressive bunches with beautiful fire-colored berries. This season’s ARRA 29 bunches from Silverland Vineyards look great and firm. ARRA 29 is one of the ARRA Varieties that is rapidly gaining good traction in Namibia.

Beautiful and surely tasty ARRA 29 from Silverland Vineyards.
Beautiful ARRA 29 (ARRA Passion Fire™) from ORVI.

A special thank you to the growers for sending us these beautiful pictures and updates directly from the farms. We are always pleased to receive news from you! 
A big thank you to all the entire TopFruit team for their extensive technical assistance and dedication to the Early Sweet and ARRA Varieties.

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