Macadamia harvest begins while clean up continues
BUNDABERG macadamia growers will attempt to put the recent severe weather events behind them as they finalise preparations for the 2013 harvest season.
While recent damage left by both ex-tropical cyclone Oswald and the most recent deluge have been a major blow to Australian macadamia growers (with lost production estimated at more than $20 million), the industry's peak body - the Australian Macadamia Society - remains optimistic of a solid recovery for growers who persevere.
The society held a workshop in Bundaberg last week to provide an opportunity for growers to talk about how to maximise harvest efficiencies and returns, in light of the recent flood events.
Bundaberg macadamia grower Chris Harte lost about 50 trees and hopes to start harvesting by next week, depending on the weather.
"It's our first year of production and we hope to get 40 tonnes but the ground is too wet and the grass is so long, we need to get it under control first," he said.
Mr Harte attended the workshop and said one of the most valuable aspects was advice on how to save trees that had been blown over.
"I wish I'd known about that earlier. I just chain-sawed them right out but I might have been able to save them.
"It'll definitely come in handy if we get more strong winds and more get bowled over," he said.
Mr Harte has four varieties among his 9000 trees, with some trees affected more than others.
"There was mainly one variety that got hit and seems to go over.
"Another variety that had branches ripped off.
"It seems that some are more susceptible to being blown over," he said.
Participants were also shown half a dozen new varieties, one of which doesn't grow as big but produces almost the same amount of nuts as other trees, which can be used for higher-density planting.