Letaba Macadamia Estate owner Henry Bader is very positive about the industry as the 2018 AUstralia Macadamia crop finishes 3% higher than previous forecast.
Letaba Macadamia Estate owner Henry Bader is very positive about the industry as the 2018 AUstralia Macadamia crop finishes 3% higher than previous forecast. Marc Stapelberg

Bumper crop has farmers vying to win back macadamia crown

WITH the biggest macadamia crop in 40 years, the Northern Rivers is making ground on Bundaberg to be the largest producing region in Australia.

Local growers held the crown until three years ago when Bundaberg took over, but this record crop has seen this area fighting back.

The rivalry between regions is set to continue, according to Australian Macadamia Society CEO Jolyon Burnett, because Bundaberg, with its larger farms of about 80ha, will continue to grow over the next five years.

Though new plantings in the Richmond and Clarence valleys could see the Northern Rivers back on top in the next five to 10 years, Mr Burnett said.

He said this year's harvest was great news for the region, with prices and the average tonnage per hectare increasing.

The future is looking good with the continuing investment by growers and "some of our industry's new plantings now coming into bearing", Mr Burnett said, and existing plantings increasing their yields as well.

"This is a great time for growers and the region," he said, adding this year's crop would see "20 to 30 million dollars injected into the Northern Rivers".

Demand for Australian macadamias remains high, with the majority of the crop already contractually committed.

The successful crop is the result of many contributing factors, from the favourable weather and minimal rain during the harvest, growers "invested substantially in the health of their soil and trees as well as overall orchard improvements".

"The second Macadamia Innovation Challenge is nearing completion, and this should produce some further exciting concepts," Mr Burnett said.

Though still in its early days, the industry is receiving reports from growers of positive signs for the 2019 crop already.

The 2018 crop came in at 47,000 tonnes in-shell at 3.5 per cent moisture, and 52,900 tonnes in-shell at 10 per cent moisture - an improvement of 3 per cent from the previous forecast of 47,500 tonnes at 3.5 per cent moisture and 51,000 tonnes at 10 per cent moisture.

Crop estimates are based on actual factory receipts of the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association as at the end of October.