INTERSTATE macadamia nut buyers are on the hunt for Gympie region produce.
New South Wales-based nut buyer Macadamia Direct has been advertising a purchasing price of $3.50 per kilogram for our local produce, still in shells.
Grower liaison officer Ross Burgess said the price was the highest it had been in some years and was due to an increase in demand and smaller crops recently.
The purchasing business bought from farms as far south as Nambucca on the mid-NSW North Coast and as far north as Bundaberg.
On the home front, Suncoast Gold Grower Services co-ordinator Brice Kaddatz
said a price of $3.50 per kg was healthy and almost double that of 2007 when it crashed to $1.65 per kg.
He said attractive prices and strong international
demand were good news for local growers, as they looked to crack a decent crop.
Mr Kaddatz said while 2014 would not be a bumper season, the takings of this year's harvest should beat that of the previous flood-affected crop.
"This year's crop looks to be moderate to good," he said yesterday.
He said one key difference between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 crops, which flower around August and are harvested in March, was more sunny days in late 2013 and early 2014.
However, he said while sunny days were essential to produce quality and oil-rich macadamias, intense heat and drought had knocked trees around in recent months.
He said scorched leaves and prematurely dropped nuts were two consequences of the heat.
"The drought had a sever impact," he said.
He said that growers in the area who could irrigate have been, and with bright sunny days in ample supply, the
result has been not only more maccas than last year but hopefully better quality ones too.
He said the next concern was whether it would rain in time for the trees to regenerate before flowering in August.
Amamoor macadamia grower Les Gain said his trees were undergoing "summer flush" which sees them grow new branches and leaves to support the next crop.
Mr Gain said the rain would be necessary, especially for growers without irrigation, but too much would be just as bad.
He said the overly wet conditions of 2012 damaged the root systems, which were still recovering.
He said the much of theindustry came down to the balancing act between rain and shine, and prices that were fair to the farmer but not high enough to price the produce out of the market.