Macadamia farmers concerned about cyclone damage

HEAVY rains have started falling in Mpumalanga owing to the influence of Cyclone Dineo and agriculturists are concerned about the affect on their crops.

The Green Farms Nut Company (GFNC) spoke with an independent advisor to the macadamia nut industry, Stephan Schoeman, about mitigating potential impacts of the cyclone.

The tropical storm affected Mozambique, which has many new macadamia nut plantings.
Hurricane winds of over 100km/hour and severe rainfall of over 100mm hit the nut areas in Mozanbique.

The 2017 nut season is in it’s infancy and flash flood rains is the key concern.
Schoeman says the most immediate infrastructural repercussion is likely to be an overflow of rivers and dams.

Pumps, which may have been closer to dams owing to the drought, need to be taken out of the flood zone.

‘Overflows must be stable and able to handle the flood,’ says Schoeman.

‘Early season nuts on the ground need to be harvested as soon as possible to prevent losses.

‘Periodic harvesting should continue throughout the next week with ongoing heavy rains expected,’ said Schoeman.

Disease

Macadamia nut trees are sensitive to phytophthora, which is a fungal disease active in anaerobic conditions.

Growers need to engage specialists to create a treatment plan, especially where extended waterlogging and flood conditions were experienced.

Recently prepared lands must have adequate run-offs, with clear unblocked drains.

‘100mm of rain in an hour would have a detrimental influence on our orchards, causing soil erosion, which would wash away essential organic matter.

‘It’s paramount to replace organic nutrients that may have been lost through compost, husk and chip material’, says Edwin Green, a GFNC grower with 200ha of macadamias in Mpumalanga and Mozambique.

Damages

Another consideration for growers is potential wind damage. Immature nuts may be blasted off trees rendering them unmarketable and trees with poorly developed or unhealthy root systems could be blown over.

Where branches tear, it is advisable to treat the wounds.

‘We estimate that 90% of our nuts are due to mature in the next couple of weeks.

‘Should winds blow nuts off trees we will use a well known method of separating mature from immature nuts using a salt water bath in which ripe nuts sink and the unripe float,’ says Alan Whyte, GFNC Director and a 400ha macadamia nut farmer in Limpopo.

Potential impacts of tropical storm Dineo on this year’s crop are unknown at this stage and will be assessed in the aftermath of the storm.

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  AUTHOR
Larry Bentley
Journalist / Editor: Agri Eco

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