Published on January 27, 2021 in Eurofruit

Varietal Vigour

Grapa Varieties was recently featured in Eurofruit, the fruit and vegetable industry’s leading marketing magazine, by Fred Meintjes.

Aussenkehr - Leading table grape developer Grapa Varieties says it is focused on long-term sucess with a string of exciting cultivars.

Over 150ha of ARRA Passion Star™ have been planted.

Grapa Varieties first introduced its Early Sweet variety into Namibia in 2006, and since then the ARRA range has followed.  The leading global, family business, which specialises in breeding and licensing premium table grapes varieties worldwide, says its two brands are now successfully grown and marketed in 28 countries across six continents, under various weather conditions.

Nomi Karniel-Padan, Commercial Director at the company, says Grapa is focused on the long-term success of these varieties and the licensed producers. “To achieve this goal, Grapa is dedicated to providing each and every licensed producer with the support he or she needs.  Topfruit, international leader in cultivar management, is the exclusive territorial agent for the commericalisation of the ARRA varieties and Early Sweet in southern Africa.

Arnold Viljoen, table grapes manager at Topfruit, says to date there are more than 300ha of Early Sweet planted in Namibia.  “Since the ARRA range arrived in the country, they immediately provided their value with their ease of production and low maintenance,” Viljoen confirms.

The first of the ARRA varieties planted in Namibia, were the well-known ARRA 15 (ARRA Sweeties™), and ARRA 13 (ARRA Passion Star™), a white seedless and a red seedless variety.  Viljoen says both are high yielding and very grower friendly.  Due to their impressive characteristics, more than 150ha of ARRA 13 have been planted so far, as well as 200ha of ARRA 15, with the entire ARRA range totalling over 620ha in Namibia.  “Today 50 percent or more of the seedless table grapes planted in Aussenkehr are ARRA Varieties and Early Sweet,” Viljoen continues.

Both ARRA 15 and ARRA 13 have provided Namibian Growers a respectable return on investment.  “Producers indicated that these two varieties are their highest income earners,” he outlines. “These varieties are also well known amongst the trade and customers and they are very content with these flagship ARRA varieties in Namibia.”

ARRA Varieties offer growers a great return on investment.

Viljoen says the rest of the ARRA range is rapidly gaining traction in Namibia. These include ARRA 30 (ARRA Sugar Drop™), ARRA 29 (ARRA Passion Fire™), ARRA 14 (ARRA Mystic Bloom™), and ARRA 33. Shachar Karniel, ARRA Varieties breeder, says out of the new very early selections between blacks, reds and whites, ARRA 33 is the best to represent a variety of “uncompromising characteristics” including a hint of muscat flavour. It is the latest of the ARRA varieties to be introduced to Namibia.  HE says growers have already confirmed its potential due to its time of harvest and its grower-friendly qualities.

With Namibia being a very early production area – harvesting starts in around week 45/46 each year – it couples well with the fact that the ARRA range is best known for its early varieties.

“The remarkable and multifaceted characteristics of these varieties drive the ARRA range to continue to be extensively planted in Namibia, ” he notes.  “At the same time many of the older, more labour-intensive varieties, have been replaced with ARRA 29 and ARRA 33, which are now being widely planted.”

ARRA 29, ARRA Passion Fire™, will be the variety that makes the biggest impact during this Namibian season, Viljoen adds. “It’s impressive shelf-life, colour and berry size are outstanding, and it will open the South African season in the overseas market with a bang.”

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