In this edition we bring you news from India as well as updates from South Africa. Moreover, we are pleased to share with you photos directly from the farms of the Chilean licensees where the ARRA™ harvest just kicked off.
Uzi Yaron, Grapa R&D Director, recently returned from a whirlwind tour focused on visiting the Indian ARRA producers. This was Uzi’s third time this year visiting India. He previously travelled back in March and then in May consistently preparing the ARRA producers for the different vines growing stages. Uzi reports: “The trip to India was encouraging. So far, most of the farmers formed a very good understanding of the correct growing practices related to ARRA Sweeties and are therefore reaching very positive results”. The ARRA Sweeties™ plantations in the Nashik region are about 55 to 80 days from pruning and harvest is expected to start at the end of December and will carry on until February. Uzi’s main focus during the visit was to finetune the latest ARRA Sweeties’ protocol adjustment and provide training to the local Sahyadri agronomist team.
ARRA Sweeties just before harvest
Uzi adds: “I was happy to see how the development of the ARRA programme is positively changing the Indian grape production scene. Challenging weather conditions require the introduction of new grape varieties that have rain resistance qualities and ARRA Sweeties is proving its great advantage over traditional table grape varieties. Growers are increasingly choosing to replace their old plantation of Thompson with ARRA Sweeties. By growing premium varieties in India the growers can compete with other exporting markets in quality and offer a good product with great value”.
ARRA Sweeties has been referred to as very good variety due to its rain resistance, good fertility and bunch uniformity. This is a game-changer for the Indian grape industry and a way of bringing sustainability to farmers. Along with ARRA Sweeties there is great excitement around the mid-season red ARD 35 and ARD 36. There are big expectations about these two new ARRA selections and we are confident that they will be a great addition to the current ARRA Varieties plantations. In addition to Uzi’s farm visits, a general meeting was held for all the Indian ARRA growers. The event took place at Sahyadri’s company campus. Events like these provide the growers with even more tools, knowledge and support to continue to improve the production quality.
Uzi concludes: “There is potential in this vast country and we trust that the strong co-operation between Sahyadri Farms and Grapa Varieties will keep the ARRA programme growing towards a great and well deserved success. Thank you all for the great hospitality, every trip to India is truly memorable”.

This week Arnold Viljoen and Andrê Agenbag, TopFruit Agronomists, visited Namibia to follow up on the harvest activities. They report: “The current river levels are still high and entail numerous challenges such as positioning of irrigation pumps, fortunately, so far the producers have managed to overcome these conditions very well”.

Andrê Agenbag recounts: “The producers are currently at the peak of the ARRA Sweeties™ harvest and the crops look extraordinary.

90% of ARRA Mystic Bloom™ has been harvested already and the quality is superb”.
Andrê Agenbag continues: “The production this year is very good, and the ARRA varieties stood out once again and exceeded our expectations”.

Left: ARRA Sweeties & right ARRA Mystic Bloom
Also in South Africa the growers are facing challenges due to the heavy rain. The Western Cape recently saw as much as 120mm of rain within an 48 hour timespan. Luckily, the resilience of the ARRA growers has been demonstrated yet again with swift repairs to vineyards and risk management plans. The current harvest in the Trawal region, located in the Western Cape, has been halted due to the rain, but it will soon resume and the growers will be able to carry on their harvest of ARRA Passion Fire™ followed by ARRA Sweeties™.
ARRA Passion Fire after the rain at Naudesia, one of the farms under management of Michael Vorster's (TGMS)
AJ and Arnold visited the Hex River region where some rainstorms were registered during the past week and the TopFruit team reports: “The early varieties are very much exposed to the climatic conditions but after our inspections in many ARRA Passion Fire blocks, we can gladly report that there is not any major damage yet. The harvest in the Hex River will fully start during week 52/1”.
The ARRA harvest season in Chile is just around the corner and with strong and vigorous vineyards, now in their 5th and 6th year of commercial production, it looks like the Chilean producers are off to a good start in the South American country’s Copiapó Valley, marking the beginning of Chile’s ARRA varieties export.
Karl Conrads, CEO of Grapasa, ARRA Varieties Exclusive Agent in South America, reports: “We are very excited about the start of the grape export season in Chile. The season has been delayed by one week as a result of the cold in the spring, nevertheless, it looks like we will produce excellent quality fruit. The growers are happy as the crops show good color and size, the fruit is very crunchy, which is exactly what the consumers like”. Karl adds: “Although labour availability in the northern area of Chile seems better than last season, supply and costs of materials, as well as shipping rates, are affecting logistics around the world. We hope that this season Chile will not be affected by any logistic disruption and that the fruit will reach its destination in time and in optimal condition. Guillermo Baez, Grapasa Agronomist in the Copiapo area, was focused on supporting the ARRA producers along all stages of the growing cycle in order to achieve the best possible result while overcoming current challenges.”

WE WOULD LIKE TO SHARE SOME OF THE FEEDBACK FROM THE ARRA GROWERS IN THE COPIAPO AREA

Geraldine Santelices, Manager at Agrícola El Fuerte, is ready for this season’s harvest, predicted to start on Monday the 19th. Geraldine says: “ARRA Sweeties™ has been evolving very well, with a very good calibre fruit, with elongated berries of over 22 mm. The crop is crunchy and of a good shiny color. Geraldine concludes: “We forecast to harvest approximately 3,300 boxes of 8.2 kilos per hectare and we will export mainly to the Far East. I am very happy with the results from ARRA Sweeties so far”.
Jorge Jofre, Manager of Agrícola Pesenti, is about to start the harvest and everything in the farm is set to success. This coming Thursday they will be busy harvesting ARRA Sweeties and so far the fruit shows a very good size and it is sweet and crunchy.
Jorge Jofre ready to harvest his ARRA Sweeties
Agrícola Pesenti will follow with ARRA Passion Fire and Jorge reports: “We are ready to start the season with ARRA Sweeties as well as ARRA Passion Fire™ and we will end the season with the black ARRA Mystic Dream™”. Jorge continues: “Our ARRA Passion Fire shows a very good colour, it is crunchy and has a very appealing appearance, we will start harvesting it this week. The bunches of ARRA Mystic Dream are just showing the beginning of veraison and I can say that I am very happy from the results I achieved from the ARRA Varieties so far”.
Río Blanco’s harvest can be seen in all its beauty with its full bunches with large, and clean berries, a calibre of 22 to 23 mm in diameter. The berries are very crunchy and sweet.
Rio Blanco ARRA Sweeties
Rio Blanco stands out for its high-quality operations and consecutive success of their ARRA Sweeties each year. The high technical knowledge of the Rio Blanco team is seen in the finished product: premium quality ARRA Sweeties. Rio Blanco has been growing ARRA Varieties since 2012 and the passion and commitment to producing quality fruit can be seen season after season.

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