Deciduous fruit farmers anticipate better yields

Deciduous fruit farmers in the Sarah Baartman District who have had to endure souring fortunes as a result of natural disasters in the past three financial years are anticipating a much-needed turnaround.

After suffering a prolonged drought since 2015, their situation worsened when a severe hailstorm ravaged their orchards of apples, pears and plums in 2021, destroying 80% of the fruits just before harvesting season. Misgund Landgoed just outside Joubertina is one of the farms hit hard by the punishing weather, leading to a decline in the farm’s yield that fluctuated just between 2,000 and 3,000 tonnes from its 69 hectares of orchards.

The farm grows different kinds of apples, namely Flash Gala, Royal Gala, Top Red, Grannysmith and Golden Delicious, as well as plums and Forelle pears. Misgund Landgoed is owned by a 134-member trust and it is among the many enterprises to have received support from the Eastern Cape provincial department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform ( DRDAR ) .

“Government extended muchneeded support to the farm,” said Jan Uithaler, deputy chairperson of the board of trustees. “When we struggled with water during the severe drought in the region, the department helped us with a proper irrigation system — some – thing which saw our production growing exponentially.