This year, TopFruit, the exclusive territorial agent for the commercialization of the ARRA™ Varieties and Early Sweet™ in Southern Africa, successfully hosted two early-season field days in Augrabies (Northern Cape) and Groblersdal (Limpopo region) respectively. This week we are happy to bring you the highlights of these both very fruitful days.

On 28 November, a very well attended field day was conducted in Augrabies. The tour started at Shelfco’s farm where farm manager Dries Smit showcased his ARRA 29 and ARRA 30 crop. Great attention to detail went into the organization of the event where approximately 100 guests, ranging from producers, exporters and technical advisors attended. 

Shelfco Farm: Producers taking a closer look at ARRA30 (ARRA Sugar Drop™)

ARRA 29 (ARRA Passion Fire™) drew a lot of attention with its superb color. Arnold Viljoen, Table Grape business unit manager at TopFruit says: “This variety is one of the best varieties between the ARRA range due to its harvest timing and extremely positive market feedbacks”. So far, TopFruit has seen major success with these annual field days, where producers and industry representatives get a chance to see and taste the ARRA varieties that are showcased. ARRA 29 has been extensively planted in South Africa and along with ARRA 30 they perform great in Augrabies, Northern Cape.

Ready for harvest ARRA 29 at Shelfco Farm.

The day continued with the tour at Sweet Sensation farm, situated in the northern region of South Africa. The field days in the northern region allowed the TopFruit team to showcase the commercially planted varieties, as well as to introduce the promising  ARRA selections in the test blocks

DJ Strauss, Sweet Sensation farm manager on the left and Arnold Viljoen (TopFruit Table Grape business unit manager) and Hannes Nel (Rooipad) on the right.

In the Sweet Sensation Test Block, producers were shown several varieties from the ARRA range along with the new rising star ARRA 33. DJ Strauss, Sweet Sensation farm manager, informed guests of the growing protocols for each variety showcased on the day. Great results were achieved by applying only one treatment for sizing

A watchful eye is cast upon ARRA 33 at Sweet Sensation Farm.

There was great feedback on the varieties showcased, but undoubtedly the highpoint of the day was the ARRA 33. Arnold Viljoen says: “ARRA 33 is a much-anticipated variety that is showing great potential to replace early white seedless varieties that are not as grower friendly. By contrast, ARRA 33 is very grower friendly and ideal for producers that are increasingly looking for ways to improve profit margins on the varieties that they select to commercialize.”

A week after the Augrabies field day the TopFruit team hosted the first-ever field day in the Limpopo region South Africa’s northernmost province. On the 5th of December 2020, the field day got underway to exhibit the ARRA varieties in HN Pieterse Test Block, located in Groblersdal.

Great organization and attention to detail at HN Pieterse farm.

The TopFruit team kicked off the day by giving an introduction of the ARRA Program to the over 40 participants supplying a summary of each variety’s technical aspects before giving the guests a chance to see, feel and taste these exceptional grapes. The producers also had the chance to network with the authorized local nursery and to secure their plant orders for next season.

From left: Arnold Viljoen (TopFruit), Hendri Pieterse (Owner, HN Pieterse), AJ Jansen van Vuuren (TopFruit).

The team had the opportunity to elaborate more on the aim of the ARRA™ varieties in this region and gave the growers the assurance of technical support through the year. The climate in this region dictates that grape varieties must have a certain resistance to rain, a characteristic that is undoubtedly an advantage of the ARRA Varieties range. The region’s annual rainfall is high during the harvest season, and the month before this field day, amounting to approximately 85mm of rain in the area of this test block giving ARRA varieties the opportunity to show their mettle in local conditions.

ARRA 30 (ARRA Sugar Drop™)

Producers started the tour by visiting ARRA 30 vines. The variety looked very good and was at optimal ripeness with elongated-shaped berries that are crunchy and sweet with a light creamy color. The tour continued with ARRA 29 that attracted much attention due to its intense color and berry size. No Ethephon is needed to assist with color development and only 10ppm GA3 was applied for sizing. 

ARRA 29 beautiful results with large, crisp berries and intense color with no Ethephon.

Two more varieties caught the attention of the participants: ARRA 13 (ARRA Passion Star™) and  ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom™). These two varieties perform exceptionally well in South Africa and Nambia. 
ARRA 14 amazed everyone with its extremely grower-friendly, high-yielding vineyards planted in the Limpopo region. No Ethephon was applied for color.

ARRA 13 & ARRA 14. Commercial plantations of these two varieties grow mainly in South Africa and Namibia due to their suitability to the climate

Arnold Viljoen says: “The ARRA Varieties made a great impression. Usually, TopFruit aims to showcase the ARRA Varieties in commercial vineyards as well as in test blocks. In future field days for the Limpopo region, more focus will be on the commercial blocks. ARRA Varieties are gaining a lot of interest in this area,”
“The ARRA Varieties are being recognized within the Table Grape industry for their exceptional performance and TopFruit would like to thank everyone who is contributing and investing in the success of the varieties” Arnold adds.

From Left to Right, AJ Jansen van Vuuren (Table Grape Technical, TopFruit) DJ Strauss (Manager, Sweet Sensation), Dries Smit (Manager, Shelfco), Arnold Viljoen (Table Grape business unit Manager, TopFruit), Hein Coetzee (COO, TopFruit).

TopFruit and Grapa would like to thank all the producers and guests that attended the field days as well as the teams of Shelfco’s farm, HN Pieterse and Sweet Sensation for the amazing collaboration in hosting the events.

We wish all the ARRA™ and Early Sweet™ producers a prosperous harvest and that 2021 will be a good year for all.

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