Research to improve harvesting of nuts
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.