Apples are one of the most popular and widely produced fruits. Apples are produced in temperate regions throughout the world, in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
China leads the world in apple production volumes, producing more than 40 million tonnes annually, followed by the USA. Although apple production is seasonal, they are available on international markets throughout the year due to global export supplies.
Apples have been produced commercially in South Africa since the 1880s and have been exported from South Africa to the United Kingdom since the 1890s.
Initially, orchards were developed in the Western Cape's deciduous fruit production regions but over time and to date apples are produced throughout the country.
The Western Cape in South Africa is the largest traditional apple production region and accounts for more than half of the apple production in the country.
The biggest apple production regions are around the Western Cape towns of Ceres, Wolseley, Elgin and Villiersdorp. The Langkloof region is along South Africa’s Southern Cape and spans the border between the Western and the Eastern Cape and produces around 20% of the country’s apples.
There are also small but growing production areas further north in the country in the Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces. The orchards in these regions are generally newer than the orchards further south, as apple production was not feasible before due to the frequent hail experienced in these areas, but with the introduction of hail nets, they are now viable.
These are the earliest South African production regions and as they start producing in late December, they are in high demand during the December holiday season.
Apples are nutritious and have good fibre content. The fruit and skin are edible and only the pips and core are usually discarded. Apples are eaten raw, used in salads, cooked for sauces and jams or used in baking.
Apples are also juiced for apple juice, juice concentrate or cider. Apples can be canned or dried.By Louise Brodie
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