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