Re­search to im­prove har­vest­ing of nuts

Central and North Burnett Times - - RURAL WEEKLY -

DE­SPITE the in­dus­try be­ing af­fected by the re­cent se­vere weather, Aus­tralian macadamia grow­ers are nev­er­the­less hope­ful of an­other strong crop this sea­son, and will no doubt wel­come news that new re­search aims to re­duce the har­vest win­dow by sev­eral weeks and save the in­dus­try a com­bined es­ti­mated to­tal of more than $30 mil­lion per year.

Be­ing de­liv­ered by Hor­ti­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Aus­tralia us­ing macadamia in­dus­try levies and funds from the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment, the re­search will work to im­prove nut col­lec­tion op­tions and the har­vest win­dow.

Hor­ti­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Aus­tralia chief ex­ec­u­tive John Lloyd said the re­search would present a game changer for the in­dus­try.

“In Aus­tralia, macadamia nuts are har­vested me­chan­i­cally from the or­chard floor af­ter they drop nat­u­rally from trees, typ­i­cally be­tween March and Au­gust.

“As a re­sult, grow­ers need to run a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of har­vest rounds each sea­son,” he said.

“Not only does this take time, it can re­sult in nut qual­ity loss if they are on the ground for ex­tended pe­ri­ods; nut ma­tu­ri­ties can vary and there is limited op­por­tu­nity to fer­tilise, prune and mow dur­ing the har­vest win­dow.

“Grow­ers also es­ti­mate they could lose about 15% of their crop due to nuts missed dur­ing har­vest­ing or fall­ing out­side the har­vest win­dow.

“This project aims to dra­mat­i­cally re­duce these fac­tors though the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of new har­vest­ing tech adop­tion, prun­ing op­tions and in­cre­men­tal changes to cur­rent farm equip­ment. All up, our re­searchers es­ti­mate these changes could save grow­ers a com­bined to­tal of about $30m a year if ap­plied across the 17,000-odd hectares of trees we have cur­rently in Aus­tralia.”

The project will be com­plete early 2019.

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