Farmer's Weekly (South Africa)

‘Macadamia industry’s future lies with new cultivars’

- – Staff reporter

It is estimated that Australia will produce 60 000t of macadamias in the 2023/24 season, up from the previous season’s 52 974t.

However, falling prices mean that farmers in that country, much like those here in South Africa, are looking for new markets.

Despite this, Lindsay Bryen, an Australian macadamia farmer who has been in the industry for more than 40 years, and chairperso­n of Australia’s Macadamia Industry Varietals Improvemen­t Committee, said farmers needed to have hope that the situation would change in due course.

Speaking to US television network ABC News, Bryen said that the rise and fall of prices was cyclical. “People have just got to stick to the industry, and it’ll return to better times again. [However], some new entrants will struggle. They’re probably overcommit­ted and not quite prepared for this.”

He added, however, that consumer education and cultivar developmen­t were essential for the future of the industry.

Selective breeding, for example, had shown great success when it came to the developmen­t of hardier and more productive trees over the years.

“Thirty years ago, orchards started to produce nuts in year five and six. Now we have orchards that can produce nuts in year two and three, and we have commercial yields by year four or five,” Bryen told ABC News.

Prof Bruce Topp, lead macadamia researcher at the Queensland Alliance for Food and Agricultur­e in Australia, who joined Bryen and other growers on a visit to the Maroochy Research Facility on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, said the industry was investing millions in cultivar developmen­t.

“We want to end up with cultivars that are more profitable. That’s the bottom line.” He added that tens of millions of dollars had been spent on expanding orchards and supply.

South Africa remained the world’s biggest producer of macadamia nuts.

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