THE air is heavy in macadamia-growing regions with the rich aroma of blossoming trees holding the promise of a better 2014 yield.
The Australian Macadamia Society has revised down its 2013 crop forecast to 36,500 tonnes in-shell at 10 per cent moisture, as the statistical impacts of the January flooding are just now being tallied.
Some growing regions have suffered further prolong wet weather since then as well.
An estimated 5000 tonnes will be sold to China as in-shell leaving an intake by Australian processors of 31,500 tonnes.
Based on current sound kernel recoveries for the season, this will produce a kernel yield of 8500 tonnes.
“The June forecast of 39,000 tonnes was based on historical data and factory intake to the end of May,” AMS chief executive officer Jolyon Burnett said.
“June and July receivals have fallen well short of expectations. This is a frustrating result at a time when global demand for macadamia kernel is strong.
“There is growing awareness of the health and beauty benefits of macadamias and their versatility as an ingredient in new products.”
But for Bauple growers like Cameron and Tracy Wallace, the current heavy flowering is a healthy sign that their 2000 or so trees are on track for next year.
“We’ve had a few challenging years, but we’re optimistic and positive that the recent run of disappointingly small crops will soon come to an end,” he said.
“Flowering is an important stage of the macadamia growing cycle. Between August and September each year, our trees bear sprays or racemes of small white or pink blossoms.”
As few as 3 per cent of flowers can be converted to nuts and only half of those reach full maturity if conditions are not favourable.
Cameron said while a fantastic blossoming is a good sign, it doesn’t always guarantee a bumper bounty.
“A grower can still produce a significant crop from an average flowering. What we really need is a reasonable wet season unlike the torrential downpour we’ve had in previous years,” he said.
“We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that favourable weather conditions remain from now until harvest in February.”