Harvests escape flooding Avocado harvesting about to get under way has escaped any possible side effects from the torrential rains flooding nearby Mozambique, confirmed Louis Vorster, chairman of the South African Avocado Growers' Association (SAAGA). Together with chief executive Chris Keevy he was in the UK as part of the pre season importers briefing. "Rains have drained off orchards and the crop is unaffected," he said. "We look like having a good crop which will be marginally larger than two years ago, reaching around 11 million cartons exported to Europe." Ettinger will be arriving in the UK about the second week of March, about a fortnight later than last year, ensuring the first fruit is mature. Hass should follow in around a further six weeks. SAAGA has also appealed to its members and exporters to work more closely together. "There is enough good quality fruit to meet all demands," said Keevy. "But we want to ensure that the market keeps a sensible balance." Shipping arrangements have been tightened up to avoid unnecessary arrival peaks, and a quality control scheme designed to keep less popular sizes off the market is in place. Overall he is optimistic. After discussions with Spanish and Israeli growers it appears that in the total 1999/2000 season, the EU will receive around 160,000 tonnes from all sources, some 25,000 tonnes less than the last glut two years ago when crops all peaked. Sensible South African marketing policies will also have to be a hallmark in the years ahead as the crop continues to expand. The extension of more late bearing Hass coming into bearing in five years' time will mean the South African season could extend a further six weeks into late October. {{FRESH PRODUCE }}