Growing macadamias hedged for future demand

Red Sun Hortitech director, Mark Hassenkamp says as macadamia trees can take anything between four to seven years to reach optimal yields, his advice to farmers is to plant a well-balanced spread of cultivars based on the assessment of region and farm specific analysis to guarantee the investment is hedged for future demand.

“It’s not just about what’s profitable now, it is about what is sustainable and expected from the markets ten years from now. A good combination of volume and value is paramount,” Hassenkamp says.

Red Sun Hortitech is a leading South African nursery selling over 500 000 macadamia trees a year to growers across the Southern African Development Community countries.

“Global tree nut consumption has increased 24% over the last ten years. This, alongside the astonishing 473% increase in their value over the same period makes it understandable the focus has been on the here and now. However, as the market continues to mature and crop volume grows, specific demand for quality and nut grade is going to have a very important impact,” he says.

It is estimated 50% of the macadamia trees already planted in South Africa are of the 695 variety or Beaumont’s, as they are more widely known.

Hassenkamp says the variety is popular as they are relatively easy to cultivate, are fast growing with typically large yields, however, they tend to produce a smaller nut that is more difficult to crack due to a lower SKR ratio (less shell to nut by comparison to other varieties).