The 2018 citrus season has been a good one for SAFE, according to Dries Van Rooyen, SAFE’s general manager of farming operations.
“The excellent crop is the result of improved farming techniques, deployment of science with computerised irrigation and the favourable weather conditions with no hail and plenty of water, especially in Limpopo. Of course, thanks must go to the professional and enthusiastic SAFE farm managers and staff,” says Dries.
“The total number of cartons packed for the year was 1 471 764. At Marble Hall alone, we set a new SAFE record for citrus by packing a million cartons this season, up from around 500 000 last season.
“SAFE took over the Marble Hall farm in Limpopo 18 months ago, bringing SAFE management, planting, fertilising and harvesting processes to the farm. We also changed our spraying programme at the start of the growing season. All of this, combined with hard work by farm manager Frans Vorsatz and his team, have led to this new record.”
He says SAFE’s investment in more scientific farming methods and planting of new orchards countrywide is definitely paying off on all its farms.
“For the past three years, we have intensified our soil improvement programme and have also been experimenting with new low dose pesticides and fertilisers, in collaboration with Hans Le Grange and other consultants from LAC.
“As a result, the fruit on all the citrus farms was in excellent health at the start of the harvest, with no sign of any blemishes or hail damage. And as expected, yields are up by about 20% on last year, of which 10% is due to improved farming methods and 10% a result of the new orchards, which are now starting to bear fruit.
“This is also the first year we have exported soft citrus produce from Limpopo, which makes the remarkable results even more satisfying,” says Dries.