November 28, 2018
Work on developing the South Burnett’s first commercial macadamia plantation began on Monday with the first of 12,000 young trees being planted in a Kingaroy paddock.
Sonie Crumpton, better known for peanuts and duboisia, is hoping this macadamia trial will be worth the wait – and the considerable investment in time and money.
Consultant Kim Wilson, from Eureka Macadamia Management in Lismore, has been working with Sonie on the project.
He said the trees were expected to produce their first commercial crop in 2022.
The macadamias have spent two years growing in a nursery in northern NSW before being transferred into a 100 acre paddock on the north side of Kingaroy.
Three main varieties are being tested – 741, 842 and A203 – which are the most popular varieties currently being grown in the Bundaberg area.
But four recently released varieties will also be grown in lots of 300 to test their suitability for South Burnett conditions. These varieties – P, G, J and MCT1 – have the potential of producing a greater kernel-to-shell ratio which could be potentially more profitable for growers.
All the trees will be drip-irrigated from a natural spring on the property.
Kim said the South Burnett could become a macadamia-growing area, although the availability of water would always be an issue in some areas and they could not be grown on low-lying land which was subject to frosts.
The trees flower in August-September, before setting nuts which develop during November-December.
The nuts usually reach maturity in late January or mid-February when they fall naturally to the ground.
They are then gathered up by special machinery.
The trees are being being planted 3.7m apart in nine metre GPS-marked rows which allow plenty of room for the mature trees to develop.
At the moment, they are surrounded by typical Kingaroy red dirt but this will change as grass will be grown between the rows.
Kim said the major jobs as the trees continue to mature will be weed control, mowing and some hand pruning and fertilizing.
There was a buzz of activity in the paddock on Monday.
One tractor was raking the soil to break up clods while the planter followed a bit later, scraping up the raised beds for the young trees to be deposited within.
Workers were then tending to each tree before a water truck came along to immediately irrigate around each new plant.
Sonie said it was an exciting project but admitted it was a big investment with potentially no return for seven years.