This week, we bring news fresh from the grapevines in Namibia, focusing on the ARRA™ harvests currently underway in the prolific grape-producing region of Aussenkehr.

The new export season has got off to a good start in the Southern Hemisphere and the Namibian table grape growers are confident that compared to last year, the market conditions will be much improved. The recent climatic conditions of cool nights and warm days have been ideal for developing optimal quality fruit.

Solar Grapes

Sweet and early!

This year, Solar Grapes’ harvest began with Early Sweet™ on the 17th October, and will be followed later with the harvest of their extensive ARRA plantations.  

The Solar Grapes team are very gratified with this season’s Early Sweet harvest; as Vesna Obradovic, Solar Grapes’ director of marketing and logistics explains, “Our team focused particularly on bunch preparation this year and we are extremely happy with the quality coming from these young blocks. With their fresh green colour and desirable brix levels, the grapes moved swiftly from vine to ship.”

Solar Grapes' production manager, Elize Van Zyl and CFO, Durr Bezuidenhout admire the beautiful Early Sweet bunches
Reaping the fruits of their labours, the abundant Early Sweet harvest

Shining stars at Solar Grapes

ARRA Passion Star’s (ARRA 13) yield, berry sizing and colour never disappoint and that has proven true yet again this season. Solar Grapes began harvesting ARRA Passion Star™ in Week 44 with some wonderful extra large bunches to show. 

With minimal to zero ethephon application, these beautifully coloured and uniform berries are shining stars in the Aussenkehr Valley. 

Silverlands Vineyards

This year on 8th November, both Silverlands Vineyards Ltd. (Hillside, Lakeside and Riverside farms) and Achill Island Investments Ltd. (Waterstone farm), situated in the Aussenkehr valley in Namibia, kicked off with their table grape packing season. Compared to previous seasons,  the harvest time for Namibia is about ten days earlier this year and as can be seen below, the ARRA varieties have got off to a great start.

Grape balls of fire!

The Silverlands team are very pleased with ARRA Passion Fire’s (ARRA 29) great start to the season. As Silverlands’ marketing, cost & supply chain professional, Rosene Matthee, relates, “From Silverlands’ Hillside farm, the well coloured, red ARRA Passion Fire™ (ARRA 29) had the privilege of opening the season. The firmness, shape of the bunches and sweet taste stood out!”

We are very grateful to agronomist and table grape manager, Arnold Viljoen of TopFruit, ARRA exclusive territorial manager in southern Africa, and his team for introducing the marvellous ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29) and grower-friendly protocol to the Namibian growers and ensuring its adaptability to the Aussenkehr Valley and resulting success.

ARRA Passion Star™ (ARRA 13)

The unique Aussenkehr micro-climate of warm days and cool evening breezes that blow in from the Orange River has a huge impact on the grapes’ quality and colour. The Aussenkehr Valley produces magnificent ARRA Passion Star (ARRA 13) grapes with good crunchiness and colour which no other region in the world can compete with.

This self-colouring and very fertile variety is well-suited to the arid and semi-arid regions of Namibia. As Rosene reports, “Silverlands’ successor for ARRA Passion Fire (ARRA 29) will be ARRA Passion Star (ARRA 13), which will allow for a continuous supply of the programmed volumes.”

ARRA Sugar Drop™ (ARRA 30)

This will be the first season that Silverlands Vineyards export real commercial volumes of ARRA Sugar Drop and the team are feeling very optimistic about the harvest; Rosene explains, “In time to catch the early European markets, this harvest of extra-large, attractive, crunchy, sweet grapes is sure to fly off the supermarket shelves.”

Capespan

Capespan Namibia in Aussenkehr is a large-scale table grape producer. It has a long-term relationship with the NGC (Namibia Grape Company) and has over the past five years, invested significantly in its farming operations in Aussenkehr.

The table grape operation has been extended to 475 hectares, while investments were also made in a new pumping station, cold stores, packhouses and a training centre and health centre for personnel.

The new pumping station

The investment is now starting to deliver on Capespan’s promise to its customers; Capespan delivered a statement congratulating its Namibian team for this exceptional achievement over the past five years.

From the vineyards, the abundant harvests go straight to the new packing house facilities.

2019 Table Grape Season

The season started off early and seems to be 7-10 days earlier than the 2018 season. The crop looks excellent with exceptional berry size, colour and quality. It is expected to be more than 50% extra-large fruit and the crop should be 85% completed before Christmas.

Capespan is exporting its Namibian grapes to selected clients in the UK, EU, Middle East and the Far East and in addition, also supplies supermarkets in South Africa. Reports from customers are very positive and most receivers have already increased their grape orders.

ARRA Varieties

Capespan Namibia is investing heavily in new varieties and has established a trial plot where many new varieties are currently tested. Over the past five years, 84 hectares of ARRA™ varieties were planted and include ARRA 10, ARRA Passion Star™ (ARRA 13), ARRA Mystic Bloom™ (ARRA 14) and ARRA Sweeties™ (ARRA 15).

ARRA 10
ARRA Passion Star (ARRA 13)
ARRA Mystic Bloom (ARRA 14)
ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15)

Namibian Table Grape Block Competition 2019

This annual event was held on the 9th of November and drew great attention from producers, exporters, sponsors and visitors from all over Namibia and South Africa.

The NGC (Namibian Grape Company) did exceptionally well by taking six out of six places in the competition, including best Production Block and best Young Block. The ARRA Passion Star (ARRA 13) and ARRA Sweeties (ARRA 15) were among the prize winners and grapes were harvested during week 47.
Among the prizes awarded, are an overseas trip to study new varieties and visit leading production areas.

Namibian Grape Company management team

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