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What Is Macadamia Farming?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2016
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Macadamia farming is the cultivation of macadamia trees, which are famous for producing a rich, flavorful nut that is popular with cooks worldwide. Macadamias require special growing conditions and careful cultivation to grow to full maturity and produce large yields of usable nuts. In nations that have a macadamia farming industry, consulting organizations and government agencies might publish guides to farming and might provide assistance to farmers who want to establish new plantations.

This nut tree is native to the subtropics of Australia, which continues to be a major producer. Subtropical regions around the world are suitable for macadamia cultivation, and Hawaii was once a significant source. Numerous African nations also grow these trees and prepare nuts for export. The trees need a climate that doesn't get too cold or hot, moderate to low elevation and a stable source of water. Extreme weather or elevations can contribute to poor crops or the development of disease in the trees.

Farmers grow macadamias with the use of grafts and rootstock. They select hardy, strong rootstock and grafts from mature trees that have good yields for macadamia farming. This allows them to develop a yielding tree more quickly than would otherwise be possible while waiting for a seedling to grow to maturity. The farmer needs to select appropriate soil and sun conditions for the crop, and he or she uses pruning to shape and control the trees.

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Some macadamia farming occurs on organic plantations, where farmers use natural means to control pests and weeds. Other farmers might use agricultural chemicals to fertilize and control pests on their farms. Organic certification can be a costly process, but the resulting nuts can be sold at a higher price, and this might work out to the benefit of the farmer. Some regions also encourage and sponsor cooperatives and other arrangements to help residents establish plantations. These groups might work with tourism agencies and other community promotion organizations to develop a market for the crop by educating members of the public about macadamia nuts and their uses.

Some macadamia tree growers also process their nuts. They can hull and package them, roasted and unroasted, and they might make products such as chocolate-covered nuts, macadamia nut butter and so forth. Smaller farms sell their crops to processors and must negotiate a good sales price for the crop, often well in advance of the actual harvest season. Organizations that have an interest in macadamia farming might assist farmers with the process of locating buyers and developing sales contracts for their crops.

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