Grape Growing in the Kalahari….

Bordering on the Orange river for a great distance lie the grape producing farms of the Northern Cape… Wine, table grapes and dried fruit (currents and raisins) is the order of the day…

South Africa ranks as number two behind Chile in terms of raisin production in the Southern Hemisphere and it is regarded as a producer of high quality raisins for export market. About 70 % of grapes for drying are grown in the Northern Cape, along the Orange River (Lower: 12,003 Ha) and
Upper (26,000 Ha) and in Namaqualand (1,319 Ha), with the remainder coming from some parts of Western Cape. The most widely grown grape cultivar for raisins is Thompson seedless at 7,188 Ha.

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The Northern Cape Province weather is typically that of desert and semi-desert areas, characterized by high summer temperatures ranging from 33 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius with warm winter days and cooler nights and these weather conditions are ideal for seedless grapes, as they allow the fruit
to ripen properly.

There are about 1,250 sultana-grape growers in the Northern Cape Province producing three raisin types, that is the: Sultana raisins, Golden raisins, Thompson seedless raisins and these raisin types rank among the best in the world.

I sneaked onto a farm to get a few photos and to taste a few grapes…..

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Nothing seems to be wrong with the crop this year… except they were still a little sour, those that I tried…

The lands in places are protected by Dykes as flooding a couple of years ago did cause a bit of damage….

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When harvested the grapes are laid out in the sun to dry… they are spread on huge concrete floors and it does look strange… I hope they wash them before they pack them… (don’t worry they do, no bird poop in our packets)..

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It came as quite a surprise to me, to learn that we had in 2010, produced just short of 50 000 mega tons of raisins alone…. Wow…