The summer fresh citrus shipped from South Africa to North America is expected to take a notable jump in volume over 2009. A heavy set, however, could limit the amount of bigger fruit, importers said.


“It looks as if the fruit will peak in smaller sizes, but there’s plenty of fruit to go around,” said William Kopke, vice president of William H. Kopke Jr. Inc., Lake Success, N.Y.


The estimate from Citrusdal, South Africa’s Western Cape Citrus Producers Forum, is 40,000 pallets, about 14% above the 2009 deal.


The first South African clementines are scheduled to arrive on the East Coast about the third week in June, Kopke said, with the first navels arriving a week or so later. The company plans to have supplies of both varieties through the summer, he said.


The schedule is nearly identical at DNE World Fruit Sales, Ft. Pierce, Fla.


Clementine arrivals are scheduled to begin the last week in June, and the first navels are expected during the first week in July, said Stu Monaghan, national sales manager.


The heavy fruit set also spurred projections of a bigger South African citrus deal at Seald Sweet International, Vero Beach, Fla.


“We’re excited. It looks like a very good year,” said David Mixon, senior vice president and chief marketing officer.


The Seald Sweet outlook is mirrored at Fisher-Capespan Inc., Montreal, where Marc Solomon, president and chief executive officer, said the company anticipates good quality and ample summer volumes.


Midknights, another DNE citrus import from South Africa, will begin to arrive in late summer, Monaghan said.


Similar to valencias, but larger and with fewer seeds, the midknights have high juice content. Early arrivals of the midknights are expected in mid-September, but the volume will ramp up significantly in October, Monaghan said.


The larger South African volume will mean DNE’s East Coast and West Coast citrus imports “will be pretty well balanced this year,” Monaghan said.


In addition to South Africa, some Chilean citrus will go to the East Coast, while Peru and Australia will deliver to the West Coast, he said.


“The programs will complement each other very well,” Monaghan said.


One major importer, Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, is taking a hiatus from South African imports this season, said James Milne, category director of citrus. With a full array of citrus from Chile and Peru, Oppenheimer also elected not to import from Australia in 2010.