Hard to believe it is already mid-April which means the South African table grape season is sealed. Therefore we thought it would be a great opportunity to start the flashing red spotlight episode with the Southern African season overview of ARRA Passion Fire, the second in the ARRA Red Factor series.
In a nutshell, why are we passionate about ARRA Passion fire?
Its early, yet colours fully and naturally to a beautiful fire red colour. When ready to pick, it has a great, satisfying crunch and flavour. It has excellent hanging ability, shipping durability and shelf life, which is not to be taken for granted in an early red variety.
As the ARRA Passion fire is one of the leading ARRA varieties in Southern Africa, we thought we’d share some interesting headlines, that were part of the season summary by AJ Jansen van Vuuren, Table Grape Manager at TopFruit, the exclusive representative of the ARRA varieties in Southern Africa.
Q: As the newest member of the Topfruit Table Grape Unit, what is most interesting when moving from university to the field? What is your favourite aspect of the Table grape industry or production cycle?
A: Following University, where my BSc major was Soil Science and Viticulture, I was a consultant in the wine industry for four years. Being in the Table Grape industry is much more stimulating for me as a consultant and technical advisor since it is a much more intensive way of farming. It is most interesting, seeing how every producer with his personal touch and approach puts all the pieces together, ultimately following the perfect “recipe” for each cultivar in the respective areas.
Q: What are some of the major challenges facing the RSA Table Grape industry specifically in the Northern Cape and Namibia?
A: The Northern Cape had a 30-40% loss in production the past season due to extreme weather at vital stages of the growing cycle making it a financially tough year ahead.
Overall costs rising such as fuel and labour along with electricity supply issues makes the production costs of table grapes a worrying factor.
The profit margin on table grapes is not as big as one would like with the above-mentioned costs. This results in many planned expansions being put on hold as producers try to optimize their risk management. The current challenges also contribute to difficult times for R&D of new and upcoming varieties. However, new varieties are undoubtably the future and adopting them on a large scale is the ultimate way to overcome the current challenges.
As opposed to the Northern Cape, Namibia, had one of its best seasons. ARRA varieties are thriving in this area and are some of the Namibian producers’ best cultivars, both financially and production wise. Water sources in general in this area are very scarce, apart from the Orange River. This may result in future challenges in terms of expansions but not at this stage. Generally, the Namibian Table Grape Industry is in a very good position.
Q: How have the ARRA Varieties impacted the table grape industry in RSA to overcome the challenges you mentioned?
A: I think ARRA Honey Pop may well be the next big cultivar to look forward to in these two areas. The reasons being the ease of production, short cycle and fertility compared to other varieties available with no compromise in quality.
Overall ARRA cultivars are known for requiring fewer labour inputs and for their ease of production. This alone already helps growers to overcome some of the major challenges detailed above.
Q: What innovations or developments do you think will have the biggest effect on the industry in the coming years?
A: I think the future is to be determined by multiple factors, of which I will mention only one: new cultivars with the same or better grape qualities as the current varieties but with much lower input costs, making these varieties an obvious choice for the average South African and Namibian Table Grape producer.
Q: How would you summarize in one sentence your experience with ARRA?
A: ARRA have some unique and excellent varieties to choose from and they have proven to meet the high quality demanded by the evolving markets.
The Crush Everyone’s talking about!
Tony Calvillo, Vice President of International Business Development, Dayka & Hackett LLC, shared: “Today, we visited the ARRA Cherry Crush—a grape variety that exceeds the expectations of growers, consumers, and retailers alike. We are thrilled to witness its remarkable potential. Boasting an alluring cherry colour, impressive size, abundant production, and a perfect balance of taste and crunch, ARRA Cherry Crush creates a mutually beneficial scenario for discerning producers, consumers, and retailers.”
Igniting the senses
Just in time for the festive season, the inaugural batch of ARRA Fire Crunch™ made its way from Peru to the USA. Karl Conrads, founder, CEO of Grapasa accompanied the first year vines from budbreak all the way to Walmart facilities in Los Angeles.
Don’t miss the footage, showing this landmark arrival, now the sky’s the limit.
Sharing the passion – Right now in Southern Africa:
“It’s a great, beautiful grape, we are having a great time packing it.” shares Gabriel Viljoen of G.P. Viljoen Farming
We’ve heard other growers excited about this year’s performance.
“The ARRA Passion Fire was probably the most beautiful red grapes around on our farms.”
Start the season with a Kiss
This year, attendees got a firsthand look at ARRA Fire Kiss™ in Egypt. What stood out was how distinctly different it was from the Flame, leaving no doubt that it is the perfect Flame replacement.