Citrus Types
Fruit Farming in South Africa

©Louise Brodie
Autumn gold navel oranges, South Africa.
©Louise Brodie
Eureka lemons grown in South Africa.
©Louise Brodie
Limes.
©Louise Brodie
Star ruby grapefruit orchard in South Africa.

The most popular citrus types farmed in South Africa include oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and soft citrus.

Oranges
The most commonly produced orange types in South Africa are Navels and Valencias. Navels generally ripen before Valencias. The navel is characterised by the miniature “second” internal fruit which develops at the base of the fruit. The fruit is named navel as this feature resembles a human navel. Valencias are named after the Spanish city of Valencia although its true origin is not known. Valencias are generally very sweet and have a thinner skin than navels and are largely cultivated for juice production.

Oranges are by far South Africa’s biggest citrus type and account for around 60% of South African citrus exports. The South African Valencia harvest is the biggest citrus type to be produced and exported from South Africa and is roughly double the production volumes of navels.

Lemons and Limes
Lemons and limes are two distinct types of fruit. Lemons are mainly cultivated in temperate climates, while limes are generally produced in tropical and subtropical climates. These fruits both have an acidic or sour flavour and are used globally for a wide range of applications. Besides their use in the food and beverage sector, lemon and lime extracts are also used in medicines, cosmetics and cleaning products. The good international demand for lemons has resulted in rapidly growing South African productions in this citrus sector during recent years.

Grapefruit
Grapefruit are the largest citrus type. They are traditionally eaten as a breakfast fruit and also juiced. The origin of the name of the fruit refers to the growing pattern, as the fruit tend to develop close together and the appearance is thus similar to a bunch of grapes. Grapefruits varieties are divided into white and pigmented grapefruit. Pigmented grapefruit contains lycopene, which provided the pink or red colour of the pigmented varieties. Good market demand for red (pigmented) grapefruit in the markets in the Far East is boosting both sales and further growth in the South African industry.

Soft Citrus
Soft citrus refers to a subsection of citrus fruits that have loose skins and are sometimes referred to as ‘easy peelers’. This includes mandarins, clementines, satsumas, mineolas and tangerines. These sweet fruits are in high demand globally due to their flavour and loose skin. Soft citrus is experiencing massive growth globally and in South Africa, soft citrus productions are also expanding rapidly around the country.

Kumquats
Kumquats are small, orange coloured fruit. While the peel has a sweet flavour and scented fragrance, the fruit is distinctly sour. The fruit can be eaten cooked but is mainly used to make marmalades, jellies, and other spreads.

By Louise Brodie

Grapefruit

Despite achieving a mere 4% of the total production, South Africa grapefruit production accounted for 25% of all grapefruit exports in 2018....more

Lemons

During winter (from late May to August in South Africa) lemons in South Africa are harvested and exported to various countries, most notably the United Kingdom....more

Limes

Lime production in South Africa is quite small, with only 82 ha being registered for exports in 2018. This is primarily because farmers can generate better income from other citrus crops....more

Orange

The Eastern Cape accounts for 14% of the area under orange production, while the Western Cape accounts for 9% of orange production in South Africa....more

Soft Citrus

A wide range of soft citrus varieties is planted in South Africa. This can roughly be divided into three groups: mandarins, clementines, and satsumas....more