• Citrus comprises the following broad categories: oranges, soft citrus, grapefruit, and lemons and limes.
  • These can be consumed as fresh fruit or processed for juice making, juice concentrates and dried fruit production. Citrus fruit can also be processed as essential oils obtained from fruit peels.
  • These are used by the flavour houses to add flavour to drinks and food, by pharmaceutical companies, in aromatherapy and by the cosmetics industry.

International business environment

  • The top producers of oranges are Brazil, China, EU, Mexico and the US (SA is at number 8) (USDA, 2018).
  • The top producers of grapefruit are China, US, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey. SA is the top exporter and, after the US, the top processor (USDA, 2018).
  • The top producers of lemons and limes are Mexico, Argentina, EU, US and Turkey (SA is at position 6). SA is at 5 for processing and 3 for exporting (USDA, 2018).
  • The Southern Hemisphere Association of Fresh Fruit Exporters (SHAFFE) represents, as the name suggests, several southern hemisphere fresh fruit exporters: Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa and Uruguay. See www.shaffe.net. Other major citrus producing countries include China, Brazil, the EU (France, Greece, Italy and Spain), Egypt, Turkey and Morocco.
  • Find the citrus option at www.freshplaza.com and the monthly “Citrus: World Markets and Trade” from the USDA at https://apps.fas.usda.gov/psdonline/circulars/citrus.pdf

 

South Africa: imports and exports

The annual Fresh Fruit Exporter Directory gives trade statistics for the citrus and other fruit sectors. Download it at the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum (FPEF) website, https://fpef.co.za.

Although South Africa currently only produces roughly 1.8% of global orange volumes, less than 1% of soft citrus, 1.98% of grapefruit and 3.28% lemons and limes respectively (BFAP, 2018), it is a major global exporter of citrus. Seventy percent of the South African crop is exported; the rest is sold locally as fresh produce or channelled to the processing industry.

Southern African citrus reached a record volume of product packed for export in 2018 as the figure exceeds 1.9 million tons (128 million cartons). With just 5 million cartons still to be packed (mostly oranges) the season will end up just shy of 2 million tons – another milestone (CGA, 2018).

The decision by the UK to leave the EU is a cause for optimism. Since it has no citrus industry, there is no need for protectionist measures like the EU has. In 2018, the South African citrus industry anticipates markets in the Philippines and Vietnam to open, and for greater access to the US market.

The Citrus Growers Association website – www.cga.co.za – has information on packed and shipped volumes which is updated weekly during the citrus season. All growers of export citrus who pay the levy, and exporters who are registered with FPEF (Fresh Produce Exporters Forum) have access to this information, as do members of the CMF (Citrus Marketing Forum). Passwords for the Grower Section of the website are available by contacting gloria [at] cga.co.za.

The MRL’ s or Recommended Usage Restrictions For Plant Protection Products On Southern African Export Citrus MRL’s are also on the Citrus Growers Association website – www.cga.co.za. This document was compiled by Vaughan Hattingh (Citrus Research International) and Paul Hardman (Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa) and is updated twice a year.

Local business environment

The latest Citrus Market Value Chain Profile from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries at www.daff.gov.za (on the Directorate Marketing’s pages) provides an analysis of the citrus value chain.

Regions under citrus are climatically diverse. Examples are:

  • the semi-tropical areas of the low-lying eastern seaboard (Zimbabwe, Moçambique, and Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces of South Africa);
  • the higher lying subtropical areas (Nelspruit, Letaba, Zimbabwe middleveld);
  • the cool coastal areas of the Eastern and Western Cape.

The northern and eastern areas of Southern Africa are all summer rainfall areas, whereas the Western and Southern Cape enjoy a Mediterranean-type climate with winter rainfall. In the Eastern Cape a bimodal rainfall pattern exists with rains mostly occurring in spring and the fall. This broad climatic range from semi-tropical to Mediterranean-type climates has numerous, distinct advantages resulting in a wide range of cultivars being successfully produced from late February/early March through to late September/mid October.

Citrus produce in South Africa is sold through different marketing channels such as national fresh produce markets, informal markets (street hawkers), directly to processors for juice making and dried fruit production. The fruits are also sold directly to wholesalers and retailers through signed contracts. The larger portion is exported to foreign countries through export agents.

Any natural and/or phytosanitary disaster can also not equally affect all regions, and the supply of fruit from Southern Africa as a whole is thus fairly stable from year to year. However, this diversity also has disadvantages in terms of variability in quality of the same cultivar produced in different areas.

Because citrus production is primarily focused on export it is highly exposed to competition. Maintaining a good (cost competitive) position, high fruit quality (which includes compliance to phytosanitary standards) and keeping abreast with changes in world market trends are of the utmost importance.

Projects and new farmer information

The Info Pak (see “Websites & publications” heading) is a practical introduction to growing citrus.

  • CGA Grower Development Company (CGA-GDA) Tel: 012 003 4209 http://cga-gdc.org.za Supporting sustainable and profitable black-owned citrus enterprises
  • Of interest too are Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) publications like Our Citrus Transforms, Women in Citrus, Youth in Citrus, Fruits of Success and New Stories of South African Citrus. All five books are available from the CGA offices. Call 031 765 2514 or e-mail Gloria [at] cga.co.za
  • Citrus Academy Tel: 031 765 3410/2 www.citrusacademy.org.za The Citrus Academy was established at the beginning of 2005 as a division of the Citrus Growers Association, with the purpose of creating an enabling environment for skills development within the South African citrus industry. Since 2007, the Academy has been a separate non-profit company. The activities of the Academy are funded by CGA levies, with additional project funding sources from a variety of donors.

Grower’s points of interest

Citrus Improvement Programme and nursery practices

South African citrus producers purchase their trees from nurseries accredited by the South African Citrus Improvement Scheme (SACIS). The SACIS serves the citrus Industry via a centralised budwood supply farmblock – Citrus Foundation Block (CFB) – near Uitenhage, close to Port Elizabeth. Currently the CFB supplies all certified propagation material to accredited citrus nurseries. A nuclear block of virus-free material of all cultivars is maintained at the Agricultural Research Council-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) and at Citrus Research International (CRI) in Nelspruit. All the propagation material, except lemons, has been inoculated with a mild strain of Citrus Tristeza Virus (CTV) to protect the trees against the more aggressive CTV strains that is commonly found in southern Africa.

 

Rootstocks

Since the 1980s, rootstocks rendering high internal quality fruit (such as Troyer and Carrizo, X639 and MXT citranges, and Swingle citrumelo) have become the rootstocks of choice. This aspect is important for the future competitiveness of the Southern African citrus industry to produce fruit of high eating quality to compete with citrus production regions such as Argentina, Uruguay and Australia where trifoliate orange rootstock is preferentially used due to the cold tolerance it imparts on the scion. Rough lemon rootstock is still the preferred rootstock for lemons. Where Eureka lemons are used, producers are aware of incompatibility with certain citrange rootstocks.

 

Planting time and procedure

Since most nurseries are producing trees in containers, time of orchard establishment is not critical. However, in the colder, windy areas the preferred planting time is early spring (September/October).

Nursery trees are commonly topped at 60 to 70 cm height to allow scaffold development to occur at a height of 40 to 60 cm. Growers ensure that trees with goose neck root systems are not planted.

 

Spacing trends

Citrus tended to be ranched in certain areas, especially the hot climatic regions. Due to increased establishment costs and the need for earlier economic break-even, and the need to have sunlight-, spray- and picker-friendly trees, there has been a move towards increasingly higher planting densities. Also, the new wave of technology development in tree size maintenance, particularly pruning, provide citrus producers with more confidence to plant at higher densities.

In the hotter regions, where Valencia oranges and grapefruit are produced, spacings of 7×3 meters or 6×3 meters are commonly used, whereas in the cooler regions, where Navel oranges, and Clementine and Satsuma mandarins are produced, spacings as wide as 6×3 meters and as close as 4.5 or 5×2 meters are used.

 

Preplant soil preparation

The high potential soils of the northern areas (with little or no need for pH correction) are usually only ripped and land preparation costs are thus quite low. In the Western Cape region a lot of money is spent on proper ripping and ploughing. Soil pH correction and other ameliorants (phosphorus, sometimes micro-elements) are added in a double ploughing action. Expensive subsoil drainage systems are often required. In addition, in many cases ridging is considered to provide for added drainage or where the soil is high in clay content.

In the case of replant soils the previous trees must be removed with their root systems, the soils must be ploughed and dried out properly to allow the incidence of soil borne pathogens such as Phytophthora to diminish, and replanting should only take place two years after the proper removal of the trees if the soils are not fumigated before replanting.

 

Windbreaks

In certain citrus producing areas windbreaks are necessary to reduce wind blemishes. Many windbreak types have been tested or are commonly used. The most well-adapted windbreak tree throughout Southern Africa is beefwood or Casuarina (Casuarina cunninghamiana Miq.). Pinus radiata D. Don and silky oak (Grevillea robusta A. Cunn) are sometimes used. Deciduous type windbreaks are often used as secondary windbreaks in conjunction with beefwood in the Western Cape, e.g. Dutch alder (Alnus cordata) and Chinese poplar (Populus simonii [syn. P. obtusa]).

 

Row orientation

Whereas it is not so critical to plant in north-south row directions in the northern regions (lower latitude, dry winters), it is still commonly done. In the more southern latitudes, with the more extreme angle of the sun and where rain or dew can keep the tree wet for extended periods during harvest, it is essential to plant in a north-south row direction, especially with Alternaria susceptible cultivars.

 

Irrigation and fertigation

Under-tree microsprinkler irrigation systems are most commonly used, while a few orchards still use overhead sprinkler irrigation. More recently, however, drip irrigation systems have become increasingly common, with an increased use of drip fertigation where pH and electrical conductivity are controlled in a balanced nutrient solution which is provided daily to restrict root system development in a bid to control tree phenology. To attain good eating quality, pre-harvest water stress (limited or deficit irrigation) has become an accepted practice, for example with Satsuma mandarin.

 

Fertilisation

Fertilisation of bearing trees is exclusively based on annual leaf analysis data from leaves from fruiting terminals and the previous history of the orchard with respect to yield, fruit size, quality and previous fertilisation record. Nitrogen phosphorus and potassium are most commonly applied as soil applications, whereas magnesium and the micro-elements (copper, boron, zinc, manganese and molybdenum) are applied as foliar applications, when required. Soil pH correction is achieved by the addition of calcitic or dolomitic lime, and water penetration or salinity problems are addressed by the application of gypsum.

 

Pruning

In some production regions there is a shift towards selective pruning by hand or with pneumatic pruning equipment. Most large orchards are, however, hedged and topped mechanically. Though higher density plantings are the norm, growers should guard against too dense plantings which could result in crops being pruned away. Managing post prune re-growth is critical.

Source: Citrus Research International. Visit www.citrusres.com.

National strategy and government contact

Citrus is one of several crops identified as being both labour-intensive AND having high growth potential (Sihlobo, 2018).

The National Development Plan (NDP), accepted by government as policy (refer to the “Job creation” chapter), recognises the potential of commercial agriculture for job creation. In addition to those presently employed, it identifies 250 000 direct jobs and a further 130 000 indirect jobs as something to aim for. Citrus is one of the agricultural sub-sectors identified in the NDP as having great promise.

From the NDP : “The employment requirement to produce citrus fruit is estimated at one worker per hectare of an estimated 60 000 translating into about 60 000 workers employed on citrus farms. Direct downstream labour requirements for citrus are estimated at one labourer per 2 500 cartons packed: with about 100 million cartons packed per year, some 40 000 jobs are created in packing plants for a period of six months, or 20 000 full-time equivalents. In addition, there are labour requirements for transportation, warehousing, port handling, research and development, and processing”.

The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) 2018/19 – 2020/21 features fruit export development in the Key Action Programmes. The intention is to accelerate export growth and develop value-added/processed products in both new and existing markets. Find the document at www.thedti.gov.za.

The Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP), takes its cue from the NDP and the IPAPs. It would like the citrus sector to increase plantings by 15 000ha to 80 000ha, and increase employment from 70 200 to 85 200 jobs. APAP would also like to see gross income generated in this sector grow from R8 094 mil to R12 141 mil. It sets out seven policy levers to achieve this, including reviewed trade policies and intensified infrastructure investment via SIP 11 (Strategic Integrated Project 11, to do with agro-logistics and rural infrastructure).

Role players

Associations

The general “Fruit” chapter has contact details for the Fresh Produce Exporters’ Forum and other relevant bodies.

Citrus Growers Association of Southern Africa (CGA) Justin Chadwick: Chief Executive Officer Tel: 031 765 2514 www.cga.co.za

The CGA is mandated to maximise the long-term profitability of its members. A statutory levy of R112 per 15 kg carton allows it to fund a number of programmes – mainly research and research-related (disease management, integrated pest management and fruit quality enhancement). Other programmes include citrus improvement, market access, sanitary and phytosanitary issues, technology transfer, information and industry transformation. On the request of growers, logistics has now been included in the range of services offered to citrus growers and exporters.

Citrus Marketing Forum

  1. Joint Chairmen: Anton Kruger (CEO-FPEF) and Justin Chadwick (CEO-CGA)
  2. Secretarial services: Antonia Appel, Antonia [at] fpef.co.za and Gloria Weare, gloria [at] cga.co.za

The CMF currently meets two or three times a year, at the beginning of the citrus season, mid season (if necessary) and end of season. Export agents, growers of export citrus and other stakeholders have an opportunity to voice their opinions and discuss the various markets. Estimates for the various commodity types are also discussed and the meeting is therefore made aware of the destination of the fruit and can discuss alternative destinations and advise the export agents accordingly.

South African Citrus Processors Association Tel: 015 298 6001

CGA group of companies:

  • CGA Cultivar Company Tel: 041 583 3464 www.cgacc.co.za
  • Citrus Research International (Pty) Ltd. (CRI) Tel: 013 759 8000 www.citrusres.com CRI, the research arm of Citrus Growers Association, has been commissioned to research and develop the technical issues required to enhance access of southern African citrus to world markets. This includes requirements for opening new markets and retaining and improving access to existing markets. Read about research, the Citrus Improvement Scheme (CIS), Extension and more on the website, www.citrusres.com.
  • Citrus Foundation Block: Uitenhage Tel: 041 992 5366 Citrus Foundation Block is responsible for multiplication of citrus propagation material. Commercial citrus nurseries buy budwood from the Foundation Block to make trees for the industry.

 

Parastatal

  • National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) Tel: 012 341 1115 www.namc.co.za Agricultural industry Trusts (including the citrus one) are administered here.
  • Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB) Tel: 021 930 1134 www.ppecb.com PPECB provides internationally preferred food, safety, quality and assurance services to promote and instil confidence in South African products. Contact details of all their regional branches are available on their website.

 

Training and research

Read about the CGA Cultivar Company and Citrus Research International under the “CGA group of companies” heading.

  • ARC-Agricultural Engineering (ARC-AE) Tel: 012 842 4017 Included in this campus’ mandate is agro-processing. Contact it for the Agro-processing of Citrus Fruit manual.
  • ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops (ARC-TSC) Tel: 013 753 7000 www.arc.agric.za The ARC-TSC in Nelspruit breeds new varieties and houses the citrus quarantine facility.
  • Citrus Academy Tel: 031 765 3410/2 www.citrusacademy.org.za (See earlier note about the Citrus Academy under heading 4). The Citrus Academy Bursary Fund supports students and a variety of academic institutions all over South Africa, and is paired with work experience and exposure programmes. The Citrus Academy also develops learning programmes and learning media that is used widely to enable and support skills development in the citrus industry. The website of the Citrus Academy has been designed as a functional tool where visitors can apply for bursaries, look for qualified candidates, find learning media and resources, access learning programmes, get involved in learning events, and catch up with the latest news of the Skills Development front.
  • Citrogold Tel: 021 882 8277 www.citrogold.co.za
  • NOSA Agricultural Services Tel: 087 286 9298 www.nosaagri.co.za
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology Tel: 021 808 3728
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Horticultural Science Tel: 021 808 2112 www.sun.ac.za/horticulture
  • Stellenbosch University Department of Plant Pathology Tel: 021 808 4799
  • University of Pretoria Department of Plant Production and Soil Science Tel: 012 420 3220/4 www.up.ac.za

Learnerships and apprenticeships are a combination of on-the-job learning along with some theoretical training. The major part of the training can be offered on the farm. Find information on learnerships in the “Agricultural education & training” chapter, or on the AgriSETA website, www.agriseta.co.za (under “Skills delivery” option).

Companies: inputs and services

 

Companies: growers and exporters

Find the exporter lists on https://fpef.co.za.

 

Consultants

Southern African Subtropical and Citrus Consultants (SASCCON) Tel: 083 629 3806 tom [at] fromabove.co.za, liezl [at] cri.co.za

Websites and publications

  • The websites of the associations involved are a useful place to start when looking for information e.g. www.cga.co.za and www.citrusres.com.
  • The Citrus Growers Association publishes a Citrus Statistics booklet every year in about May. This publication is free to all growers and members of the Fresh Produce Exporters Forum (FPEF). Any other interested parties can purchase the booklet by contacting Gloria [at] cga.co.za.
  • Find the latest Citrus Market Value Chain Profile under “Branches”, “Marketing” and “Annual publications” at www.daff.gov.za, website of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Under “Resource Centre” find (i) Brochure grapefruit, (ii) Brochure Orange, and the Info Paks (iii) Cultivation of Citrus, and (iv) Step-by-step Export manual for the South African fruit industry.
  • The Cultivation of Citrus and Citrus Pests in the Republic of South Africa, two publications published by the ARC-Tropical and Subtropical Crops. Tel: 013 753 7000.
  • Call 012 842 4017 or email iaeinfo [at] arc.agric.za for the publication Processing of Citrus Fruit (Grapefruit, lemons, oranges).
  • Citrus is dealt with in the publication “Fruit and nut production in KZN”, which can be downloaded at http://www.kzndard.gov.za/resource-centre/guideline-documents
  • Find the Orange Tree Information page at https://wikifarmer.com/orange-tree-information/
  • Local and international links are provided on role player websites.
  • The South African Fruit Journal is published bi-monthly and distributed to growers free of charge. Copies can be purchased – refer to www.safj.co.za.
  • The photo gallery www.vitalbugs.co.za/citrusgallery.asp shows the different pests of citrus fruit.
  • Find presentations like “South Africa’s Citrus exports: A Strategic Export Market Analysis Approach” and “Priorisation of South Africa’s orange export markets in the Far East” on www.agbiz.co.za. The Far East is seen as a vital area for strategic expansion.
  • Previous documents from the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) have looked at South Africa’s trade in oranges. Find the South African Fruit Trade Flow and the TradeProbe at www.namc.co.za.

 

Some articles

Our thanks to the CGA for reading our draft chapter, and for their feedback and suggestions

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