Clarence Valley going nuts for macadamias
THE macadamia business is booming in the floodplains of the North Coast, with production value of the region's industry reaching almost $100 million last year.
In the Clarence Valley the industry has expanded, and across the Tweed, Clarence and Richmond catchment areas producers have planted more than 2000 hectares of macadamia trees in the last two years on the floodplains, once the domain of endless sugar cane fields.
About 11 years ago Palmers Channel farmer Bruce Green made the switch from cane farming to macadamias and is now mentoring others making the transition to macadamias.
"We've got more growers coming onboard all the time," he said.
"We're seeing first-hand the move towards macadamias in the floodplains especially here in the Clarence but also across the Northern Rivers."
With around 1100ha of macadamias on his property alone, Mr Green said the growing price fetched for the exotic nut on the international market was an attractive incentive for an increasing number of farmers.
"Macadamia prices virtually doubled three years ago, and they've been steady ever since so the future does look good," he said.
"In the Clarence macadamias have been going quite well. We're certainly not out to disrupt the sugar cane industry, it's an opportunity for them as well. Whatever way people want to go, it's up to them."
Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair said the value of macadamias in NSW has increased almost 20 per cent per annum over the past five years and is expected to continue growing.
"These floodplain areas are currently achieving some of the highest yields per hectare in Australia, resulting in greater returns for our producers," he said.
"It's great to be able to see this expansion and new approach paying off for the sector and the NSW Government will continue to assist local growers to develop macadamia farms on the coastal floodplains in the area."
Department of Primary Industries macadamia development officer Jeremy Bright said establishing a macadamia orchard on a floodplain requires special management considerations, including effective flood mitigation.
"There are several challenges that growers on the floodplains face, including acid sulphate soils and drainage issues and effective management of these is critical in order to maintain high quality and productive floodplain orchards," Mr Bright said.