4,000 hectares of new macadamia plants in Australia

Scott Gregson-Allcott, CEO, Macadamia Farm Management (MFM), Bundaberg, North Queensland, is undoubtedly one of the industry’s most innovative operators. Prior to MFM Scott managed a large vegetable seedling nursery in Bowen, North Queensland, before  establishing a large macadamia nursery ‘MACQ’ in Bundaberg which supplied grafted macadamia trees to major stakeholders within the industry. He migrated to Australia from South Africa in 1997 to continue his studies in agriculture and holds a Bachelor in Crop Science from The University of Queensland.
Scott manages over 250,000 trees through his business Macadamia Farm Management in Bundaberg, and has extensive experience in rejuvenating mature orchards and improving kernel quality through specific handling system modifications. His latest project is a multi-million dollar joint venture ‘BundySort’ featuring the largest Bungay drying facility in the world.
Since taking over Macadamia Farm Management in 2010 he has undertaken a range of work to improve quality and production through improvements and modifications to his handling system and nutritional program. “My main aim was to increase nutrition, whilst improving and maintaining soil health, which in turn has increased tree health,” says Scott.

Scott’s improvements include:
• the development of an innovative new type of transport bin boosting air-flow between kernel with a high-powered fan on the roof, mesh sides and a perforated floor (combating the high temperatures and humidity during harvest that lead to mould and reductions in kernel quality during transport).
• an infra-red chlorophyll-seeking spray system (Weedseeker) which targets individual weeds (resulting in a saving of almost 40% on spray costs).
• increasing the amount of nutrients applied to orchards 10-fold with a combination of fertiliser and mill mud.

His latest venture ‘BundySort’, a multi-million dollar drying facility that can handle nut independent of the atmosphere (thereby reducing the impact of wet weather), is already paying dividends.  The system has reduced unsound kernel levels by up to 60% in comparison to previous years.

Australian Macadamias have seen steady high prices over the past five years. Production has also increased with new ten year old trees hitting maturity. The current market is driving expansion in the Australian industry, with over 4,000 hectares to be planted over the next two years. Major restricting factors with future expansion are land prices, and general establishment costs. Grafted Macadamia trees are also a restricting factor with a two-year waiting list on available trees. Australia currently produces more Macadamias than any other nation. This will change in the coming years. I see this as a unique position to maintain quality and market size. Australia will need to manage rising operational cost, and this will be done with new varieties and innovation with machinery to reduce dependency on labor. Main areas with regards to growing more nut will be soil health, and water. Without water, the Macadamia tree will vary with yield from year to year. The climate in Australia is best suited being native to Australia. The new varieties will potentially grow more kernel per hectare with cheaper costs. Quality is out future more than quantity. Australia’s marketing needs to focus on premium rather than volume.