A kingdom for a crop
THE good news for Australian macadamia growers, including the significant proportion of nuts grown and processed in the Gympie region, is the world is short of their product, making for good prices this year.
The bad news is the world of shortages affecting the industry is also a fact of life here.
Wolvi grower, industry consultant and founder of the Gympie processing firm Suncoast Gold, Ian McConachie, said the Australian crop had been below expectations for the past couple of years. The same was true of crops elsewhere and had been accompanied by an increase in demand.
Many growers here had experienced poor crops, although some were better off and able to take advantage of higher world prices.
“Our main problem has been the weather over the past six months.
“In September last year, heavy rain saturated the flowers, making pollination difficult," Mr McConachie said. “In December and January we had ongoing rain and that encouraged fungal diseases, causing the nuts to drop before maturity.
“It affected both the quality and the quantity. It was worse in New South Wales.
“Some orchards in the Gympie area have satisfactory crops.
“Some, like us at Wolvi, have had a pretty ordinary crop. Currency fluctuations also mean the prices we could be getting are enormous.”
Macadamia industry estimates are for a crop of 35,000 tonnes of nut in shell this season.
And, according to the Australian Macadamia Society, that is a modest figure.
Society CEO Jolyan Burnett said there was a world-side shortage of macadamia kernel, with continuing strong demand, especially from overseas. That was causing higher prices and that always encouraged growers, he said.
He said the only problem is that Australian growers have so little to sell at such an opportune time.
“It’s disappointing to have those prices and a fairly modest crop.”