Hope for a recovery in nut crops

MACADAMIA nut growers in the Bundaberg district are hoping this is the year that will pull them out of a slump the industry fell into two years ago.

With the harvest due to start in March, growers are anxiously watching their trees as they wait to see if their hopes are realised.

Hinkler Park Plantation assistant general manager David Zadro said about two years ago the price of macadamias crashed from $3/kg to about $1.50.

At present the price is about $2/kg at the farm gate for nut and shell.

“At this stage the harvest is looking fine; it looks like a good year,” Mr Zadro said.

“The prices are good and firming up.”

But the downturn in the price two years ago dealt a blow to the macadamia nut industry.

“Because of the downturn we lost a lot of production,” Mr Zadro said.

“A lot of macadamia nurseries have been closing down over the last two years, and there are not a lot of new trees going in.”

The industry is expected to take some time to recover because of the growing time for trees before they start to produce.

Mr Zadro said it took about two years to grow a tree before it was ready to plant, and four to six years before it was in production.

However, the company, which has about 1600ha under macadamias, was going ahead with plans to build a processing plant in the Bundaberg district.

Bundaberg Regional Council gave approval for the $8 million plant last year.

The plant is expected to be ready to process the produce from the 2011 season.

It will have the capacity to process 5000 tonnes of kernel every year.

Mr Zadro said the plans for building the processing plant were still on track, and decisions were now being made about details such as the size of the shed.

“It’s all still happening,” he said yesterday.

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