INDUSTRY EVENT: From back left: Macadamia growers Andrew Leslie, Gary Ross, Warren Phelps, Tony Kempnich, Paul Chapman, Peter Roberts. From front left: Bev Phelps, Lina Kempnich, Leoni Kojetin (Australian Macadamia Society) and Chris Smith (Summerland House Farm) gathered at the MacGroup event yesterday.
INDUSTRY EVENT: From back left: Macadamia growers Andrew Leslie, Gary Ross, Warren Phelps, Tony Kempnich, Paul Chapman, Peter Roberts. From front left: Bev Phelps, Lina Kempnich, Leoni Kojetin (Australian Macadamia Society) and Chris Smith (Summerland House Farm) gathered at the MacGroup event yesterday.

'Solid expectations' for 2019 local macadamia crop

FOLLOWING a record 2018 macadamia crop, members of the local macadamia industry have gathered in Alstonville to discuss future productivity and the 2019 season forecast.

More than 150 local macadamia growers and industry representatives attended the 'MacGroup' event yesterday, held at Summerland House Farm, which provided growers with knowledge on how to increase their productivity during harvest.

Industry experts, scientists and also representatives from peak industry body Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) provided growers with updates on the latest research and development projects that are changing the face of the industry.

Key topics included ground cover management to improve harvest efficiency, the latest on-farm trials, and all the information about the new macadamia tree varieties available to growers.

AMS said a 20-year $10 million breeding program is seeing trees bred for better yields, higher pest and disease resistance and more manageable canopies.

PhD researcher Ben Toft provided an update on the small tree, high productivity research project which aims to develop high density and high productivity macadamia orchard systems.

Industry experts took the opportunity to discuss this year's crop, which is shaping up to be a "solid” harvest.

AMS released the 2019 crop forecast earlier this week, which shows the 2019 crop is expected to be a slight increase on the record-breaking 2018 crop.

According to AMS, the 2019 Australian macadamia crop is forecast to reach 49,900 tonnes in-shell at 3.5 per cent moisture and 53,500 tonnes at 10 per cent moisture, while the 2018 crop resulted in 49,300 tonnes in-shell at 3.5 per cent moisture and 52,900 tonnes in-shell at 10 per cent moisture.

AMS said the season's growing conditions have been dry but largely favourable to date, starting with good rain prior to flowering and a strong nutset in spring.

AMS said while a long, hot and dry summer followed, including record dry conditions in the Northern Rivers, it is still too early in the season to determine the extent of any impact to nut size.

Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett said the Australian macadamia industry continued to expand, with high levels of new investment over the last 12 months.

Mr Burnett said demand for Australian kernel remains strong, with Japan, Taiwan, Europe and the United States all significantly increasing their kernel imports in 2018.

Kernel and in-shell imports into China declined, reflecting an increase in Chinese domestic macadamia production.