Tweed macadamia producer is Large Grower of the Year
DAVID and Sharon Wardrop from Upper Duroby have pipped more than 600 other Aussie macadamia growers to be crowned 'Large Grower of the Year' by the industry's peak industry body, the Australian Macadamia Society (AMS).
Fair share of challenges
The achievement is no mean feat for the Wardrops, who have had their fair share of challenges in growing macadamias over the last 24 years and who are one of just a handful of large-scale macadamia producers in the Tweed (the majority of Australian macadamia growers are based in the Lismore/Ballina regions).
The Wardrop's victory broke the winning streak of Knockrow's Dorey family, who have claimed the title five out of the seven years since the awards inception.
High saleable kernel
The Large and Small Grower of the Year awards recognise growers with high 'saleable' (and low 'reject') kernel per hectare.
David and Sharon's production in 2015 exceeded all expectations, producing over 2.4t of saleable kernel /ha (over 6.75t Nut In Shell/ha). Their total crop hit 150 tonnes.
So impressive are their results, that the AMS recently hosted a 'MacGroup' workshop on their farm so that other growers could come along to see the secrets behind their success.
Surprised at award
David and Sharon were surprised by the AMS with the award at the MacGroup.
"The award came out of left field, I was completely stunned," David said, who owns two macadamia orchards and is currently in the process of planting another 2000 trees.
David admits the last two decades growing macadamias has been challenging, and he even contemplated bulldozing the entire orchard at one stage but his perseverance has paid off.
"A combination of strategic crop protection, selective limb removal, integrated orchard management, fertiliser and favourable seasons means things have picked up these last few years and our 2016 crop is looking as good if not better than this season's," he said.
The Small Grower of the Year award went to Valla's Peter and Denise Ranking.