Hot spell, cyclone cut macadamia production
THE cream has been taken from Bundaberg's macadamia crop with growers expecting a 10% decline in production this season due to harsh weather.
The decline in production amounts to about $11 million in predicted profit but it is no disaster according to Australian Macadamia Society chief executive officer Jolyon Burnett.
Mr Burnett said Bundaberg's farmers were coming off the back of a record year, with the region now the macadamia capital of Australia.
Predictions for this year's crop have been revised down from 22,000 tonnes to about 19,500 due to the long hot spell Bundaberg endured before Cyclone Debbie formed.
"Bundaberg was drought declared a week or two before Debbie hit the region,” Mr Burnett said.
"Not as many nuts set as normal and the ones that did set don't have as large a kernel.
"Some of the nut could have even dropped off the tree prematurely.”
Mr Burnett said while Bundaberg avoided major damage from Debbie there was a lot of rain and wind that caused crop losses.
Bundaberg was not the only region in Australia to be hit by severe weather.
The entire Australian macadamia crop forecast has been revised down to 47,000 tonnes.
"Australian macadamia growers had laid the ground- work for their third consecutive record crop, but unfortunately these extreme weather events and challenging harvest conditions have played havoc with those plans,” Mr Burnett said.
"The Australian macadamia crop has been growing steadily since 2014, driven largely by sustained investment into productivity improvements in orchards by our growers.
"However, like all horticulture industries, we are susceptible to these kind of adverse weather events.”
Mr Burnett said the health of Australian macadamia trees and orchards was good because growers were adopting industry-wide productivity initiatives such as Integrated Orchard Management and Integrated Orchard Nutrition, which led to better soil and tree health and higher yields.
Flowering has begun in most regions, and growers will now focus on nurturing the next crop.
Global demand remains strong for both Australian kernel and in-shell.