Market boom as industry blooms
"IF FARMERS could control the weather they would never stop arguing about it,” Ken Ward says with a laugh.
The Imbil district macadamia grower says every farmer of every farming product has a different idea of the ideal season.
Mr Ward's ideal season was the first half of summer.
"We were looking at a better crop up to December 1,” he said.
That was when hail knocked off "a good third to half of our crop.
"I remember that time very well.”
One neighbour had his potential harvest destroyed outright.
There was also the little matter of heatwaves and drought, impacting the health of trees and setting farmers an impossible task as they tried to make up for the drought with irrigation.
"But you can never equal rain,” Mr Ward said.
Then came the pigs, and the cost of fencing them out.
Prices though, are the good news for this season's harvest.
Significant export demand has kept Gympie's Suncoast Gold export processing works busy and led to prices that are putting smiles on the faces of many in the industry, from farm to sale-point.
"I got record prices for two consignments,” Mr Ward says. They were small consignments, he cautions, but it was good news just the same.
Suncoast Gold technical officer Megan Boote says international demand is the key and Chinese buyers are a big part of that.
"Growers have had some years of really low prices, so this good market has been a long time coming.”
Mr Ward's father bought the property in the 1940s and for years the family made money from pineapples.
Mr Ward switched to macadamias in the early 2000s and grew passionfruit while the trees matured.
"One of the great things about macadamias is the growers help each other, with information.
"It's part of the culture that I hope we don't lose,” he said.