Citrus – Most popular fruit type and extremely nutritious”
Citrus is widely believed to have originated in ancient years in South East Asia. The earliest reference to citrus is before 300BC. In South Africa, however, the first orange and lemon trees were planted in 1654 in the gardens of the Dutch East India Company, in the area which is now known as Cape Town. The first known recorded exports of citrus took place in 1902 to England – based on a letter from Rudyard Kipling on the quality of the fruit. However, the first official exports of South African citrus took place in 1907 when the government of the day made money available to start the export process of Citrus products to England.
Today, the South African citrus industry is fully independent, without any government subsidies. Both growers and exporters are well organised in Industry Organisations and all quality control measures are being handled by an independent body, namely the Perishable Exports Control Board.
Citrus is cultivated nearly all provinces of South Africa, but the highest concentration of citrus is found in the Northern Province, the Mpumalanga region and the Eastern Cape. South Africa cultivates all the main citrus varieties i.e. Pomelos, Grapefruit (Red/White/Pink), lemons, Navel types, Valencia types and Soft Citrus varieties.
The average industry citrus export crop is approximately 1.7mil tons with Valencia types – 43%, Navel varieties – 23%, Lemons – 10%, Soft Citrus/Manderin Varieties – 8% and Pomelos and Grapefruit – 16%.
South African citrus is well known for its excellent colour and high internal quality. This is due to the cold winter nights and mild winter day time temperatures. In many trade circles it is the preferred origin for citrus. South Africa citrus is being exported all over the world with an ever-growing demand