Debbie puts a dent in macadamia yield
THE Australian Macadamia Society (AMS) has forecast 47,600 tonnes in-shell crop for 2018.
This prediction is marginally higher than the 2017 crop of 46,000 tonnes, which was affected by Cyclone Debbie and other severe weather events.
AMS Chief Executive Officer Jolyon Burnett said he was happy the industry have bounced back from last year, however was disappointed they won't be able to crack 50,000 tonnes, as they did in 2016 with a record crop of 52,000.
"We saw thousands of trees damaged, blown over or inundated in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie," Mr Burnett said.
"Macadamia's are a long-term crop; these trees are 25 years old and they don't bounce back from that kind of damage in just 12 months."
Farmers who lost crop could be looking at a two to three year wait to acquire new macadamia trees.
"Unfortunately growers who had their trees destroyed by Cyclone Debbie and its aftermath haven't been able to wander down the street buy another thousand trees and put them in," Mr Burnett said.
However, the demand for the crop has not decreased as the industry continues to expand with further large planting in both new and existing growing regions.
"What's particularly pleasing is that in the Richmond Valley and the Clarence Valley we expect to see maybe 2500 to 3000 hectares planted over the next 18 months," Mr Burnett said.
"Not only is it an indication that the industry is healthy and growing but it also sends a very important message to the market place that they can continue to invest in new products that use macadamias and to put new macadamia lines on the shelves in retail outlets because there will be a consistent and reliable supply coming from the Australian industry."
Mr Burnett said these plantings are being driven by the good return that growers are getting and the long-term prospects of the industry.
"Macadamias make up just 2% of the world trade in tree nuts and yet if you put a bowl of mixed nuts on the table its always the macadamias that go first," he said.
"The chance for us to grow that share of the global trade perhaps to 5% that's what is driving the growth, people can see that long term the demand for macadamia's is only going to grow."
The industry forecast is informed by modelling developed over seven years by the AMS and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and historical data provided by the Australian Macadamia Handlers Association.
"We try and be very accurate and realistic with our forecast," Mr Burnett said.
"What's on the tree is on the tree and we won't get any new nuts developing between now and September.
"If there's no more storms, if it's nice dry weather then we will be able to pick up all the nut that's on the tree and that forecast might go up a bit."
The final figure for the 2018 crop will be announced by the AMS in early December 2018.