Today we bring you updates and highlights from the ARRA™ and Early Sweet™ harvest season in Namibia and South Africa. In addition we share the good performance of ARRA Sugar Drop in Emerald Australia.

Today our first focus is Emerald, Australia, located in the state of Queensland, the North Eastern quadrant of the continent. At the end of the 19th century this area’s economy depended largely on the precious stone deposits. 150 years later we bring you news of totally different green gems grown and soon to be harvested at ARRA grower Wurlin Pty Ltd.

ARRA Sweeties just before harvest

Compared to the large, known table grape region of Victoria and New South Wales, where the season starts in January, the season in Emerald is way ahead, with grapes harvested in the second half of November.

As every year, since plantation, the Wurlin team is very much excited for the upcoming harvest. This week they started with ARRA Sugar Drop™  that they describe as tasting absolutely divine.

John Staier, Director of Wurlin PTY as well as devoted, passionate farmer recounts:»Our first ARRA Sugar Drop™ order was dispatched last Thursday to the retail market and it looks like the season is off to a strong start at this stage. As always, ARRA Sugar Drop has proven again that it is an excellent variety for this region». 

ARRA Sugar Drop at Wurlin

We are looking forward to the coming seasons to see the even earlier ARRA Honey Pop™ flourish in the hands of the Wurlin team.

John checking ARRA Sugar Drop

John continues by thanking the Grapa team, but it is we who are grateful to him for his professionalism and zest in producing these gems in the green fields of Emerald year after year.

RSA and Namibia have kicked off the much-awaited table grape season!

In the past months the stage has been set for a great table grape harvest in Southern Africa. AJ Jansen van Vuuren, Table Grape Manager at TopFruit reports: “The Early Sweet™ Harvest started in Aussenkehr and the Limpopo region in week 45/46, with the Northern Cape following in week 46/47. So far, growers have done their utmost to prepare this variety throughout the season and this is fully apparent. Early Sweet remains one of the largest early varieties in terms of hectares planted. Overall, the Early Sweet crop is looking very impressive, and quality is superb”.

Right: Early Sweet grown by Onderstepoort, Northern Cape South Africa Right: Early Sweet at ORVI, Namibia

The future is here and it is certainly ARRA Honey Pop™. ARRA Honey Pop, with its hint of Muscat flavor, crispiness and sweetness, is the ultimate very early white grape.

The new improved generation of early white seedless varieties, are no longer labor intensives. This was recently proven yet again at two ARRA Honey Pop field days held by Topfruit, showcasing the variety and its characteristics to the growers on a more commercial scale.

AJ recounts: “In Noordoewer, Namibia at the farm of Albert van der Merwe, Sonop, we held a field visit with the growers and some exporters. We were again blown away to learn from the growers themselves that this is a variety with zero to very little labor needed. It’s basically just pruning, training the shoots and bunch placement. After that sizing sprays and then harvest time.”

ARRA Honey Pop at Sonop farm in Noordoewer Namibia

As Albert van der Merwe, Sonop so vividly describes his team experience: “We sometimes feel bad that we are not doing any work on the ARRA Honey Pop, but there is nothing to be done”. Albert further shares that given the current results that SONOP has seen both in the field and in cold storage, he is convinced of replacing all early white seedless with ARRA Honey Pop.

Top Fruit also held a field visit at Schoonbee Landgoed in Groblersdal, Limpopo, South Africa. This is the first crop at their Semi-Commercial block of ARRA Honey Pop™ that is adjacent to a block of Early Sweet. It’s incredible how little work was necessary to reach such magnificent result.

Schoonbee Landgoed's ARRA Honey Pop first crop

AJ summarizing the cycle from A to Z: “Pruned at the same time as their Early Sweet, the ARRA Honey Pop showed very good and uniform budbreak, then bunch selections was done, no thinning was applied and only one sizing spray was done. The variety withstood 180mm of rain from flowering to date, and reached Brix between 16 and 17.“

The Topfruit team concludes: “All the growers that attended, most of whom already have orders in for plants, have no doubt that this is the right variety for this region”.

Shachar Karniel, ARRA Varieties Breeder highlights: “It is key to emphasize that on top of all of the above strengths, ARRA Honey Pop also improves the success of the growers and lowers the common risks that confront the producers. Shorter cycle varieties are becoming more and more important to the growers. ARRA Honey Pop has a natural budbreak of two weeks later than Early Sweet, but is ready for harvest at the same time, how is this even possible?.

The secret is the shorter cycle: while Early Sweet™ has a budbreak to harvest time of about 130 days, ARRA Honey Pop goes through this cycle in about 112 days. This allows the growers to manage common risks much better such as rain and heat waves, part of today’s constant climate change. Moreover, a shorter cycle require substantially less quantities of water, pesticide, and fertilizer, offering to the growers economic and environmental advantages”.

What’s to come in South Africa...

ARRA Passion Fire left: Andrê Kotze Groblersdal, right: Arien Oerlemans, Amsterdam both in Limpopo. Harvest will start next week.
ARRA Sugar Drop at Raap en Skraap, Groblerdal, Limpopo

AJ then shares a broader view of what’s to come: ”The harvest of ARRA Passion Star™, ARRA Passion Fire™ and ARRA Sugar Drop™ is also planned for the coming days. What we have seen thus far is very promising. ARRA Sugar Drop is looking very good this season with the growers really putting in all their efforts to shine with this variety. ARRA Passion Fire too, boast the consistent high quality that speaks for itself!”

Don’t miss out on these other newsletters: