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Macadamia industry crop outlook 2019- South Africa


The demand for macadamias remained strong and the kernel market in particular showed great appetite for these high-valued nuts. Approximately 67% of the South African crop was processed to kernel and the remaining 33% exported as in-shell. Its estimated that South Africa will export 15 million boxes this season. South Africa has approximately 17 500ha under avocado production, 1 130ha Lychees, and 7 000ha of mangoes.

The 2019 season is looking somewhat promising, however many varying factors make a forecast difficult. The first preliminary forecast for the 2019 season is 58 500 tonnes, based on a round of data collection from local processors and exporters (handlers). Growth conditions were, until recently, not ideal for optimal yields and nut development. Macadamia trees blossomed beautifully during spring, but early summer hot spells, in conjunction with little or late rain, has resulted in many small nuts dropping before reaching maturity, or in some cases the nuts not developing to the desired extent.

Water restrictions lead to many growers not being able to irrigate trees during critical periods. Hail storms have also hit various farms across the production regions, although large-scale damage due to hail hasn't been reported yet. 

The continual prosperity of the macadamia industry has led to a rapid increase in orchards with the industry adding around 2 000 additional hectares each year. With water shortages increasingly becoming the norm, questions are being raised now around the availability of the precious resource for the new orchards. Since the industry is still relatively new in South Africa, little research has been done on what ensures the sustainability and profitability of a macadamia farm.

It is once again expected that many new trees would come into production for the first time, which would assist to some extent to negate the effects of poorer yields from mature trees.

According to the long-term production forecast, assuming the drought will negatively impact the crop outlook by 5% for the next three years, South Africa's macadamia crop should be at approximately 58 000 tonnes in 2019 . This is in line with the current forecast from handlers in the industry of 58 500 tonnes.

A new smartphone application has been developed to help farmers better manage and keep track of their macadamia harvesting season.

The Harvest App aims to assist growers with yield data and optimise workers’ performance by efficiently measuring worker productivity, tracking the foremen on the farm, recording information and data, and displaying the necessary information on the farmer’s smartphone or desktop.

In short, it replaces the old-fashioned clipboard with a real time monitoring and data collection system that farmers can manage from afar.

The app was developed by a group of students at the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the macadamia industry and is available on both Android and iOS platforms. It can also be downloaded onto your desktop for easier viewing and management.

The app is simple to use and any staff member with a smartphone will be able to enter data into the app as the nuts are being harvested. This includes the amounts of nuts brought in by each worker and the total harvest for each block.


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