Healthy soil, organic compost and lots of water = happy healthy trees and yummy BIG Barenuts
March - July - Harvesting, De-husking & Drying
There are three varieties of macadamia nut trees at the Barenuts Macadamia Nut Farm so the harvest runs from March through until November. Orchards can be sprayed so that all of the nuts drop at once making harvest much shorter, but Farmer Mick and Farmer JoJo like to let their nuts drop naturally and when they are ready.
The younger trees (7 years old) begin to drop their mature nuts in March and are harvested over several weeks. Farmer Mick collects several loads of nuts before putting each load through the de-husker to remove the green outer husk from the nut.
The nuts are then dispensed onto a sorting table where they are graded and any nuts with blemishes or insect damage are removed. The de-husked nut (brown nut in shell) is then stored in silos and dried with warm air in preparation for cracking. Nuts are ready to be cracked when the kernel inside rattles when shaken.
August - October - Barenuts in bloom!
Macadamia nut trees flower each year from August to October. The hot weather can sometime cause some varieties to flower early. It's a lovely time of year to be in the orchard as there is a constant hum of the busy bees and other insects at work pollinating the flowers.
Each tree forms a long green flower with tiny green buds which is known as a raceme. Once pollinated, lots of tiny little cream/yellow and even pink flowers begin to form. Over time, many of these small buds will fall off the tree and generally only 1-5% of the trees racemes will grow and mature into macadamia nuts.
November - February - Mowing, Pruning & Mulching
Over the summer months, the small green buds mature in size and become fully grown macadamia nuts. As macadamia trees mature, shading can suppress the growth of ground-covers resulting in increased risk of erosion and sediment runoff in the orchard — to counteract this, and keep organic matter build up around the trunks of the trees, shade-tolerant grass is mowed to maintain an even and tidy floor for the harvester to collect nuts.
At the end of each season when all of the nuts have been harvested, there is a small window where selected limbs are manually pruned from the trees, before they begin to flower again. Manual pruning enables the tree structure to be manipulated to allow light through the canopy to the orchard floor. The pruned limbs are then chipped onto the orchard floor, providing mulch which slows water flow and provides a source of organic matter.
Managing a relatively small orchard allows us to focus specifically on soil health and sustainability, something that can be unachievable on larger macadamia nut farms. Our interest in sustainable, low impact farming has helped shaped most of our orchard management practices.
We aim to achieve soil conditions that are ideal for supporting a high level of biological activity. The use of compost helps to achieve that, and we manufacture our own on-farm, with macadamia nut husk forming a major ingredient.
Other fertilisers (determined through annual soil testing) include beneficial biology and are applied in minimal applications throughout the year, helping to minimise runoff.
Fighting bugs with bugs
The wasps lay their eggs into the eggs of their host and the developing wasp then feeds on the embryo of the pest. These methods of bio-bio-control can be very effective once a population of appropriate size is established.
To keep pesticide applications to a minimum, Farmer Mick uses an integrated pest management approach which involves biological control techniques.
Two species of small, stingless, parasitic wasps are stapled to the leaves of the trees to help control two of our most significant insect pests: Trichogramma or Macadamia Nut Borer, and Anastatus or Fruitspotting Bug.
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