SOUTH AFRICA – Unexpected snow in a localized area near Harrismith in the Free State has damaged farm infrastructure flattening apple orchards located in the area.

While snow during winter is not unusual over this high-altitude part of South Africa, apple growers were expecting hail this time of the year and not snow.

“It started snowing around six this morning,” recounts Kerryn Fyvie from Fyvie farming. “It’s not normal for us to get snow this late into October, so the nets were already closed in the middle for frost and hail.”

She added that growers are assessing the impact at this stage, waiting for the snow to melt further noting that wires are under so much tension under the weight of the snow that it can be very dangerous to cut anything at this point.

Fyvie Farming, which grows 92 hectares of apples in Harrismith, would have hosted a field day next week, but that will have to make way for orchard repairs.

The Free State apple harvest usually starts around in the middle of January; domestic apple price levels have been exceptionally good and good export opportunities are expected.

The SA Weather Service said other parts of the country that experienced snowfalls were the eastern parts of the Free State and mountainous parts of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Meteorologist Lelo Kleinbooi added no more snow was expected in the coming days, with only a chance of morning and evening fog and mist in places south of the Eastern Cape escarpment.

6000 tons of avocado destroyed by storm Bernard in Morocco

Meanwhile, in Morocco, the dust is settling, and the picture is becoming clear for the Moroccan avocado industry, after storm Bernard raised concerns last week.

According to avocado producer and CEO of ECOMAC, Abdelmoumen El Achkar, damage to the fruit averages 10%, or 6,000 tons nationwide with fallen fruits comprised of mainly large-sized Hass avocados.

“These fruits are no longer exportable, but some are still of good quality and could find their way to the local market,” he said.

“The impact on costs and volumes remains limited, as these are mainly young trees.”

It is worth noting that the storm reached its most violent intensity in the Larache region, the stronghold of avocado production in Morocco, where winds reached a speed of 106km per hour.

However, despite the loss of volume, avocado prices, according to El Achkar, will not spike because there’s plenty of supply on the market now, with shipments from Colombia and Mexico.

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