Grapes in South Africa

Think of South Africa and you will probably also think of wine. But the story behind wine is, of course, about grapes: a popular fruit in their own right in South Africa as well as the vital foundation of its 350-year-old wine tradition. In demand throughout the year, farmers look to the scientific community to help protect grape trees from pests and maintain the great taste, color and appearance which customers demand.

A worker prunes the vines, Irene Farm, Western Cape, South Africa.

The Challenge

Burger Valentin, a manager at the Irene farm in the Western Cape, finds growing grapes a challenging undertaking. “When spring comes, the mealybug comes. It can take out the whole vineyard – the whole harvest. All of our grapes could be infested with mealybugs if we didn’t use crop protection products. About half of our land has a problem with mealybugs.”

Table grapes and wine at the Fairview restaurant, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.

The Solution

Plant scientist Chirene Jelbert says it is a constant challenge to protect grapes from pests and diseases. “Every year there is a new challenge. Just as you solve one problem, another comes along. My job is to make things easier for farmers. We develop chemistry that can help farmers to protect their crops in a sustainable way.”

Margaret Reinecke at the Fairview restaurant, Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.