The 2021 South African macadamia crop was unfortunately still affected by hot and dry conditions that prevailed for several years. Although most orchards are irrigated, water usage was restricted in certain areas, which together with very high temperatures contributed significantly to physiological stress experienced by many orchards. It is a well-known fact that trees growing under these conditions have a compromised immune response to many insects and diseases which further exacerbated the low-yield problem.
The 2021 final crop was 53 585 tonnes of inshell macadamias (measured at 1.5% moisture content). Compared to the 2020 crop, the industry’s production increased with 4 660 tonnes in 2021.
Crop Forecast 2022
SAMAC has updated the crop estimate survey amongst SAMAC Handlers/Processors for the 2022 season and we are optimistic with the updated projection for the 2022 crop, compared to 2021 and 2020. The updated forecast for 2022 is 68 522 tonnes dry nut-in-shell which is 10 799 tonnes higher than the first forecast of 57 723 tonnes dry nut-in-shell.
The 2021 season ended on 53 320 tonnes dry nut-in-shell which entails that the updated forecast for 2022 is 22.2% higher with an added 15 202 tonnes dry nut-in-shell forecast for 2022.
The forecast will be updated as the season progresses.
The feedback from our various provinces looks very positive at the moment and SAMAC hopes that 2022 will be a prosperous macadamia year.
Prospects for the new season look very optimistic as certain parts of the production region already received ± 750 mm of rain by mid-January 2022. The rain was generally evenly distributed throughout the season, but there was some infrastructure and hail damage in the Nelspruit area. Farms around Nelspruit are generally very wet and farmers struggle with access in their orchards for spraying operations.
Despite some initial negative sentiment regarding the effect of cool moist days on flowering and subsequent nutset, quite the opposite is true, and farmers can look forward to a significant improvement over the previous season.
Stinkbug numbers appear to be on par for this time of the year but Tortricidae moth damages on susceptible cultivars appeared to increase considerably. Thrip numbers are down which is consistent with scientific reports indicating low damage levels during wet seasons. While it is too early for an assessment of the macadamia felted coccid, initial reports indicate that some new farms in the White River and Brondal areas are infested. Population numbers of this pest usually peak during autumn every year.
Surprisingly husk rot damage is not as severe as expected for a wet year but the low disease incidence could possibly be ascribed to diligent spray programs during critical periods. The very wet conditions may lead to higher incidence of Phytophthora, but the magnitude of this will only be determined in a few months’ time.
KwaZulu-Natal experienced a very good rainfall season with rains starting early and continuing through into January 2022. The high number of rain days during November and December 2021 did reduce heat units but we have seen a good increase in heat units now in January 2022 as the rains subsided. Some areas on the North Coast were hit by hail over December 2021, causing some crop loss. Almost all farm dams and the main provincial storage dams are 100% full, with Albert Falls, outside Maritzburg reaching 100% capacity this weekend, for the first time in 15 years or so.
In terms of the crop this year, we are very positive to see a much better set than last year. The Beaumont crop is definitely looking better than 2021 with better crop across the country. The younger Beaumont trees, which flowered earlier than the mature trees on the South Coast, set a significantly better crop, indicating the possible negative impacts of the extreme hot weather of 45°C on 14 October 2021 and early continuous rains (blossom blight). The other hybrids, A4 and Nelmak 2 have also set very well in both young and older orchards. The Integ cultivars are looking very good, especially 344, 814 and 816 with young 5–7-year-old 816’s setting particularly well.
Nut borer has been an issue on the KwaZulu-Natal coastal areas with spikes in numbers. Stinkbug numbers have been fairly typical up to now with no big spikes in scouting numbers being reported. Surprisingly, very little husk rot has been reported so far, even with the very wet, humid season.
Macadamia growers in the Limpopo province are generally, although carefully, optimistic about this seasons’ crop. Unfortunate hail events in the Letaba region have impacted some growers. However, most of the Limpopo production regions are seeing good sets reaching maturity. We have received good early season rains with generally good conditions for fruit set. Even the older cultivars are showing promising yields this season, although the ratios of shell vs kernel are not ideal in many of these older orchards. With ± 520mm rain since September 2021, the season holds potential for good yields, and the strong summer flush stores energy reserves for coming seasons. An estimated 20% more macadamia tons could come out of Limpopo this season, compared to the last year. The harvesting season might hold a lot of rainy days, which highlights the importance of fast turn-around times, and not to leave nuts on the ground for too long. It also makes late stink bug damage control more difficult as equipment often cannot enter the orchards due to too wet soils. Trends of unsound kernel recovery rates have however showed proof for better stink bug management in the province over the past three seasons. This all have us optimistic.
Western Cape /
Macadamia growers in the Western Cape province are a bit unsure with the weather patterns as it was fairly cold during December 2021 and then very hot and dry in January 2022 which made the nuts very slowly to set. The flowering time was not synchronised, and flowers bloomed at different times causing some uncertainty regarding the harvest. This region as all the other regions had nut borer damage. This is the newest macadamia growing area, and the farmers remain positive.
(source: Andrew Sheard, Elsje Joubert, John Coleman and Schalk Schoeman)
SAMAC Membership Status
Global macadamia production
2021 Distribution of macadamias – DNIS and kernel
Classification of the various countries
2021 Exports and SA markets of DNIS and kernel
SAMAC Statistical Report 2022
Established macadamia hectares and tree information
SAMAC has concluded its tree census for 2021 amongst nurseries and farmers who propagate their own trees.
The macadamia industry is an expeditious growing industry with 6 235 new macadamia hectares planted in 2021, compared to the 5 351 new hectares planted in 2020.
KwaZulu-Natal remained for the fourth consecutive year the province that established the most new hectares, followed by Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the other regions consisting of the Eastern- and Western Cape and a small grouping in Gauteng.
In terms of new hectares macadamias established, KwaZulu-Natal planted 2 691 new hectares in 2021 which is 372 hectares more than 2020. Mpumalanga has established 475 more hectares in 2021 compared to 2020, with a total of 2 233 new hectares in 2021. According to our tree census the Eastern Cape’s growth is not as positive as expected and the Western Cape is growing at a gradual pace.
When the growth by the number of trees sold is taken into consideration, there are approximately 56 368 hectares of macadamias established in South Africa.
Note = Not all nurseries and growers submitted figures.
SAMAC research on orchard mapping, macadamia trees and cultivars
SAMAC is busy with the following research projects regarding orchard mapping, trees and cultivars:
National mapping of macadamia orchards: A census of the number of hectares under macadamia production, yield and tree age modeling will also be conducted to improve crop forecasts.
Cultivar evaluation trials: This long-term project that evaluates new imported cultivars, selections within the industry and other cultivars grown in South Africa which have never undergone field trials in different sites in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. The project was initiated to ensure that all cultivars are trialed in different production regions and altitudes. Yields and quality characteristics at one location cannot be extrapolated to what will be observed at another. This will allow growers to make informed decisions based on yield and quality potential in a growing region when selecting cultivars for planting.
Genomic technologies for macadamia tree improvement (Phase 2): This projects speaks to SAMAC’s mandate to support the industry through the development of the technology required for breeding. During 2021, a genotyping service was developed at the University of Pretoria which allows interested persons to identify the parentage of trees/crosses etc. The next phase focuses on identifying the genes which underlie traits such as thin shells, precociousness etc., as well as the genetic markers associated with these traits for marker-assisted breeding. The South-African industry needs precocious cultivars adapted to our climate and pest and disease challenges, with high yields and quality to remain competitive.
Nursery-based rootstock compatibility trials: A nursery cultivar compatibility trial was initiated after it was observed that some cultivars were potentially not compatible with clonal 695 rootstocks.
Cultivar and environmental effects on fatty acid profiles and quality in macadamias: The shelf life of macadamia kernels declines throughout the season and varies between growing regions and cultivars. This study is investigating the fatty acid profiles of different cultivars in various growing regions and how this profile changes over the season and the effects on shelf life. Differences in fatty acid profiles between cultivars and within cultivars as the season progresses, as well as a cultivar from different geographic regions, has been observed.
SAMAC Loss Factor averages
2021 – It is evident that the Limpopo province consistently produces lower Sound Kernel Recovery compared to Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, and Eastern Cape. However, due to a shift in pruning practices since 2019, damage due to stinkbugs has been decreasing substantially, which helped the Limpopo region to decrease its overall USKR. Tree age plays a major role in total kernel recovery, as this has a direct effect on the ability to manage pests as young trees are smaller and easier to spray effectively. The lower Total Kernel Recovery is also driven by thicker shells in Limpopo, compared to the very thin shells realised at coastal areas in KwaZulu-Natal, leading to much higher total kernel recovery.