MACADAMIA FUND SNAPSHOT

Macadamia

See how the macadamia levy is hard at work! Scroll down to learn about Hort Innovation’s current investment of the industry levy, and results from these investments, in the R&D and marketing snapshots – or click on a project name below to go straight to a specific update. Also look for the ‘act now’ tag to easily identify project resources ready to use.

All projects are funded by Hort Innovation using the macadamia R&D or marketing levy and, in the case of R&D, contributions from the Australian Government. In some projects, additional funding sources are also used.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

Don’t forget to grab the Macadamia Fund Annual Report

Released at the start of November, Hort Innovation’s Macadamia Fund Annual Report sums up all levy investments and activities from 2016/17. You can download a copy here, or head to Hort Innovation’s Annual Report Portal to place an order for a free hard copy of the report.

What research do you want to see?

As always, Hort Innovation encourages all growers and industry participants to share their thoughts and ideas for the research they want to see – whether that’s within the industry-specific Macadamia Fund (where research is funded by grower levies and Australian Government contributions), or within Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, Hort Frontiers (where research is funded through partnerships with co-investors).

Watch this video to see how ideas are collected and grown into projects, then submit your suggestions for new projects here.

Get closer to your investments with free membership

Hort Innovation membership brings you closer to the investment activities and results in your levy fund, and to the organisation as a whole. As well as providing the opportunity for voting rights at the company’s Annual General Meeting, membership helps you connect with your industry’s Relationship Manager, sends Hortlink straight to your inbox for first-look access, provides exclusive Grower Intel alerts with industry-specific news and opportunities, and more.

Paying a levy doesn’t automatically make you a member, so read more here and sign up now!

Find resources on the Hort Innovation Macadamia Fund page…

Along with Hortlink, Hort Innovation’s webpage for macadamia levy payers is a great source of info. On it you’ll find:

  • Key documents including the Macadamia Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) for 2017-2021, released in August 2017, and the Macadamia Fund Annual Report
  • The latest meeting notes from the macadamia Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), which most recently met during August 2017, and is due to meet again in February 2018
  • Current financial documents regarding your levy, including operating statements and expenditure summaries for R&D and marketing projects
  • Grower resources, events and articles of interest to the industry.
Any questions?

Hort Innovation Relationship Manager Corrine Jasper is always available to answer questions or provide info on the Macadamia Fund program. She can be reached on 0439 433 885 or at corrine.jasper@horticulture.com.au.

R&D SNAPSHOT

NEW, ONGOING AND COMPLETED PROJECTS FOR THE INDUSTRY

Macadamia integrated disease management
(MC16018)

Status: New project

Key research provider: The University of Queensland

What’s it all about? Soon to be contracted by Hort Innovation in November, this new project will deliver a holistic integrated disease management program – which is compatible with integrated pest management – to increase productivity and profitability of macadamia growers and the Australian macadamia industry at large.

What’s the latest update? The program is expected to include research, training and communication activities to improve disease diagnostic capabilities and management approaches to a range of priority diseases, including husk spot, Phomopsis husk rot, flower bight complex, Phytophthora root rot, and branch dieback. Look for updates in future issues of Hortlink, and in industry channels, as things get underway.

Macadamia gross value of production (GVP) analysis (MC16013)

Status: Completed project

Key research provider: Australian Bureau of Statistics

What was it all about? This short and now concluded project worked with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to review the calculation of GVP for the macadamia industry. Specifically, it looked at the potential to use business data from within the macadamia supply chain to replace traditional ABS survey data.

The work was instigated by the idea that survey coverage issues may be contributing to a potential underestimation of production. It involved a pilot study to see if data from nut processors could be drawn into the process as an alternate source of information to be used in GVP estimates – reducing the traditional survey burden on growers and maximising the use of data already collected.

While providing proof of concept, the pilot study has identified issues which will need to be navigated before such data substitution can be undertaken on an ongoing and systematic basis. Hort Innovation is currently working with the ABS and macadamia industry to establish the next steps for this area of research.

Integrated pest management program (various projects)

Status: Ongoing program

Key research provider: Various

What’s it all about? This program is responsible for developing, demonstrating and facilitating the adoption of integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, to ultimately support macadamia growers in having pest-resilient farming systems.

It is made up of multiple, interrelated sub-projects, with areas of work including…

  • How inter-row vegetation management can influence the presence of beneficial insects in macadamia orchards
  • Various field trials, testing combinations of IPM tools across the orchard, in each of Australia’s macadamia growing regions
  • How insects respond to compounds and odours of interest, with an initial focus on Sigastus weevil (here, laboratory work will ensure that field trials ultimately involve compounds pests detect and are attracted to)
  • Growing knowledge of key macadamia pests, as well as beneficials, working towards the development of pest identification and management guides
  • Establishing and maintaining laboratory colonies of pests and biological control agents for use across the program’s work, including behavioural studies investigating pest preferences in relation to food, shapes and colours
  • Working with local advisors, pest consultants and industry development officers to develop and deliver extension activities around the project.

What’s the latest update? The below project update has been provided to Hort Innovation from the IPM program coordinator…

In late 2016, this program was begun to assist growers in implementing IPM in orchards.  While a large part of the industry was already supportive of IPM, the pressures of developing independent solutions meant the tools to implement effective IPM were often absent, or provided insufficient surety to allow growers to use them. The current IPM program is aimed squarely at looking at the bigger picture of pest management in the orchard, and providing understanding of the why, when and how of pest management.

Current trials reflect that holistic view. Part of that approach has seen the development of on-farm trials in four production regions (New South Wales mid-north coast, Northern Rivers, Glasshouse Mountains and Bundaberg) to compare and contrast ‘conventional’ pest control with a more integrated approach. Each of these trials involves a crop consultant working with the grower and the NSW DPI to implement.

Supporting those trials has been a series of workshops conducted by IPM Technologies. In those workshops, growers from each of the production regions discussed all their current practices and experiences in pest management. IPM Technologies took that information and, using their experience in developing IPM practice and their broad knowledge of pest management options, have developed a table of integrated low-impact practices. IPM Technologies will be working to assist selected growers trial these practices during the coming seasons. To register interest in being involved in these trials, contact IPM Technologies at info@ipmtechnologies.com.au.

In a separate trial, a progression from use of broad spectrum pesticides to soft options is being examined by the NSW DPI.

Of course, the key to an IPM approach is knowledge of what is happening in the orchard.  Understanding the life cycle and ecology of a pest allows you to target control at the correct time and in the most effective manner.  A good example of this is the new Sigastus fact sheet that has been released as part of the program. The fact sheet provides growers with information on life cycle and monitoring that allows effective, timely spraying of the pest and potentially reduces the number of sprays used by two events. The project team behind it is also working on better understanding of the ecology of some other key macadamia pests, and a PhD student has just started whose focus will be on pest ecology in a macadamia orchard.

Monitoring is key in that Sigastus approach, as it should be for other pests.  To assist in monitoring, the program is attempting to find an attractant for Sigastus to improve monitoring and control. Work is also continuing to develop monitoring of fruit spotting bug.

Beneficials are a large component of an effective IPM program and BioResources is building understanding of what is happening in the orchard through an inter-row trial.  In this trial the project team is comparing what is happening with a mown inter-row to what is happening in an inter-row that is allowed to have vegetation grow. The focus of this component of the program is understanding what impact the different approaches have on insect diversity and the ability to foster beneficial organisms. Again, this research is spread across growing regions and conducted on-farm.  Already a large database of insects found in the trials has been developed.

Finally, work is also continuing on developing a biological spray for management of Sigastus.  Isolates of fungal pathogens of Sigastus are being tested for efficacy against the pest, with the hope that a biological spray can be developed.

The current program is 12 months into its five-year run.

ACT NOW
  • Check out the spring 2017 edition of the levy-funded News Bulletin, which includes a range of information on the program, including spreads on Sigastus (from p24) and information on inter-row management and beneficials (p61)
  • In relation to the inter-row work, the program has produced a review of ‘insectaries’ used in horticulture, and advice on cover-cropping for macadamia – check it out here
  • Developments from the program will be reported at future MacGroup events – watch out for these in industry channels and on the AMS website here
  • Register your interest in taking part in on-farm IPM activity with IPM Technologies, as described above, at info@ipmtechnologies.com.au.
Benchmarking the macadamia industry 2015-18 (MC15005) 

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about? This project supplies on-farm benchmarking information for the macadamia industry. By collecting planting, production, quality and other data and analysing trends across the industry, its goal is to allow informed decision-making and help facilitate improved farm productivity and profitability for macadamia growers and other stakeholders.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, in August 2017 the Macadamia industry benchmark report 2009-2016 was released, which you can download here. The report provides a summary of planting, productivity and quality information from the 2016 season, key findings from the project’s benchmark group meetings held throughout 2016, and data dating back to 2009.

A top-level summary of the 2016 season, based on the 269 farms in the benchmarking sample:

  • Average farm size was 37 hectares
  • Average productivity was 2.92 nut-in-shell tonnes per hectare – higher than the 2.51 tonnes long-term average for the last eight seasons
  • Saleable kernels represented an average of 0.94 tonnes per hectare, up from 0.80 tonnes
  • Average saleable kernel recovery was 34.2 per cent – slightly higher than the 33.7 per cent average from past seasons.

Confidential, individual benchmarking reports have also been distributed to the project’s participating farms, and grower meetings around the project have been held in major production regions to extend results and garner participation for the next round of data collection.

The latest yield, kernel recovery and cost data produced by the project have also been incorporated into profiles for use within the industry’s financial forecasting software tool, Financial Planner for Macadamia (which was developed under an earlier levy-funded project). These templates are now available to all software users as the basis for future economic analyses produced using the tool.

ACT NOW
  • Get involved in the project! To participate in the 2017 data collection, all you need to do is provide basic planting details and the names of processors to whom you send nuts, and the benchmark team will do the rest. Participating growers receive a free and confidential report comparing their yield and quality to that of other farms of a similar size, tree age and region. These reports remain completely confidential, which means your farm’s ranking is never shared with anyone else. To participate, contact Grant Bignell at the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on (07) 5381 1334, or Jeremy Bright at the NSW Department of Primary Industries on (02) 6626 1346. Data must be received by February 16, 2018 in order to receive a final farm report.
Australian macadamia industry innovation and adoption program (MC15004)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Australian Macadamia Society

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project aims to enhance the adoption of innovation and technology, and facilitate capacity building, in the Australian macadamia industry. It supports the role and activities of a dedicated macadamia industry productivity development manager (MIPDM). Activities facilitated by the MIPDM and run through the project include…

  • MacGroup workshops
  • Regular grower meetings and annual consultants’ meetings
  • Field days and trips
  • The production of communication materials such as videos and content for industry publications.

The MIPDM is also responsible for undertaking constant engagement with growers and the wider industry, management of emerging issues, and the identification and development of opportunities for new orchard territory and expansion. 

What’s the latest update? Notifications for upcoming MacGroups, meetings and events under this project are distributed through levy-funded Australian Macadamia Society channels, including monthly e-newsletters.

Throughout the recent season, the key focus of project activities has been integrated pest and disease management, including monitoring, timing and spray coverage. The MIPDM role has brought together industry consultants to develop common knowledge on the subject; facilitated presentations from experts on integrated pest and disease management at MacGroup meetings; and developed and distributed resources including fact sheets, case studies and region-specific phenological wheel posters.

Regional field trips were also run during September, with a focus on integrated orchard management and integrated orchard nutrition.

ACT NOW
Innovative rootstocks for the Australian macadamia industry (MC16000)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about? This project is analysing and identifying rootstock genotypes that offer the best prospects for productivity improvements in the Australian macadamia industry. Over 2000 mature trees utilising some 200 rootstocks are to be assessed under commercial orchard management conditions, with productivity and quality assessments compared to those of current industry rootstocks Beaumont and H2.

What’s the latest update? Assessments were being made throughout the 2017 season, with the project team working with participating orchard operators to ensure nut assessments were made prior to each harvest. It will only be through the collation and analysis of yield and other data from multiple seasons that project results will be known, but look for updates in Hortlink as the project progresses.

Macadamia harvest improvement review (MC16001) 

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Colere Group in partnership with others

What’s it all about? This project is investigating opportunities for improving harvesting in the macadamia industry. Its work includes exploring new and existing technologies, practices and systems for nut collection, with the aim of reducing the macadamia harvest window by several weeks.

What’s the latest update? The below project update has been provided to Hort Innovation by the project team…

The Australian macadamia industry has previously estimated losses from nut maturity through to processor delivery of more than 15 per cent. The industry delivered an industry-average yield of 3.5 tonnes per hectare in 2016, and has a five-year average yield of 2.88 tonnes per hectare – which would suggest losses of about 0.4-0.5 tonnes per hectare (and at $5.20/kg this means $2000 to $2600 in lost revenue per hectare!). This is a major opportunity to increase industry profits.

This project is reviewing current harvest practice, looking at machine performance and orchard condition (that is, why are nuts being lost, where and how many?), and investigating options to manage harvest. It will provide targeted recommendations for future investment by the industry, and help growers identify specific issues in their enterprise.

Shaking, in its various forms, is a harvest management option that has been long discussed across the industry, both positively and negatively. During 2017, this project undertook a preliminary assessment of one of the most recently available technologies – the Shockwave Sprint – in collaboration with the Orchard Manufacturing Company and the Australian Macadamia Society. This limited assessment highlighted some potential for shaking, particularly where the plant hormone ethephone is applied, as a tool for…

  • Enabling responsive management – such as facilitating nut fall and subsequent pick-up in advance of a rainfall event
  • Maximising nut-fall for any single pick-up event.

Critical to the use of ethephone and tree shaking as a combined harvest management tool will be improvements in medium-term weather forecasting, and the access model (that is ownership, leasing or contracting) for a shaker by growers.

In 2018, this project has some big things on the agenda. The team will be…

  • Conducting a pick-up evaluation of finger wheel and Monchiero harvesters
  • Conducting an assessment of on-farm harvest losses across the full harvest season
  • Developing a short series of financial case studies that characterise current practice and model future options.
ACT NOW

For more information on the project, you are welcome to contact the project team at solutions@colere.com.au.

Evaluation of a biocontrol for husk spot of macadamia (MC16012)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Peracto

What’s it all about? Established in mid-2017, this project is continuing work to deliver a biological control agent for husk spot of macadamia, which is caused by the fungus Pseudocercospora macadamiae. It follows earlier Macadamia Fund project Biological husk spot research (MC12008), which identified three microbial species with promise for the management of husk spot and combined them into a single biofungicide formulation.

The new work involves field trials to confirm the formulation’s efficacy under commercial conditions and generate data to satisfy registration requirements with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

What’s the latest update? The project has two trial sites in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where the project team will be looking at different macadamia varieties that are susceptible to husk spot, and assessing applications of product for control of the disease. Look for updates in industry channels and in Hortlink as they become available.

Biology, species and genetic diversity of macadamia lace bugs (MC13008) 

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The University of New South Wales

What’s it all about? Macadamia lace bug (MLB) has a significant impact on the macadamia industry, but the taxonomy, genetics and ecology of the insect remains poorly understood. Established in 2014, this project is investigating key aspects of MLB including lifespan, food sources, where they lay their eggs and the like. The project is looking at whether out-of-season flowering is driving outbreaks, and how far individual insects can disperse. It is also examining the genetics of the insect to determine whether there are ‘cryptic’ species infesting macadamias that may be overlooked.

What’s the latest update? The project is continuing to build a picture of MLB in Australia, collecting specimens to map the number of species and their relationships.

While no official project update was due to Hort Innovation since the last Hortlink, at the time of last reporting there had been more than 200 specimens genetically analysed and raw data was being assessed.

As reported in earlier Hortlinks, initial findings tentatively suggest that lace bugs have a relatively homogenous gene pool across the Northern Rivers region, and that individual bugs may move freely between populations at distances up to 20km.

The researchers have reported that “this degree of movement between populations will undoubtedly influence lace bug management decisions, as it indicates that lace bugs are able to move across the landscape at distances that cover almost the entire Northern Rivers growing region”. They have added that this suggests potential for lace bugs to reinfest managed orchards from unmanaged source populations anywhere within the growing region.

With extensive field work having been conducted in the Northern Rivers during 2017, look for updates in industry channels and future editions of Hortlink.

Macadamia regional variety trials – series 3, phase 2 (MC11001)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

What’s it all about? This project is involved in the evaluation of new macadamia varieties established in earlier industry work. The information it generates will ultimately help guide growers in making decisions about new varieties for orchard expansion, development and possible replanting in key growing regions. The varieties it commercialises will have benefits including higher and more consistent production of high-quality kernel, resulting in a more profitable and prosperous industry in Australia, based on internationally competitive exports.

What’s the latest update? As reported in earlier editions of Hortlink, four new elite varieties have been deemed suitable for commercial release out of the project – dubbed varieties G, J, P and R. The varieties were presented to growers in early 2017 at Regional Variety Trial field walks in Bundaberg, Queensland, and Alstonville, New South Wales, and there was also a call for expressions of interest for early-adoption plantings of the varieties around this same period.

The project continues to maintain a number of trial sites, collecting and analysing data annually.

ACT NOW

In case you missed them in the last edition of Hortlink…

National macadamia grower communication program (MC15003)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Australian Macadamia Society

What’s it all about? Beginning in 2016, this project shares R&D and marketing outcomes and other knowledge with growers and other industry stakeholders. The ultimate goal is to support growers in adopting new practices and technologies, increasing orchard productivity and profitability.

The project works in conjunction with the Australian macadamia industry innovation and adoption program (MC15004), described above, to form an integrated communications program for the industry.

What’s the latest update? A number of regular communication channels continue to be produced and maintained by this project, including but not limited to:

  • The macadamia industry website
  • Quarterly Australian Macadamia Society news bulletins, containing key information and outcomes on levy-funded R&D and marketing outcomes, with issues available to download here
  • Monthly industry e-newsletters
  • A variety of ‘e-blasts’ (short emails) on a range of topics, such as regional updates, event invites and other urgent information
  • Hard copy mail-outs as required, including event invitations
  • Production and distribution of media releases promoting industry events and activities
  • Biennial Australian Macadamia Industry Conferences, with the next event to be held in 2018.
ACT NOW

As well as accessing the above resources, you can sign up to the project’s monthly newsletters at the bottom left of the industry website.

Macadamia industry minor use program (MC16002)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: Hort Innovation

What’s it all about? Through this project, levy funds and Australian Government contributions are used to renew and apply for new minor use permits for the macadamia industry. These submissions are prepared and submitted to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The minor use program is also supported by the project Generation of residue, efficacy and crop safety data for pesticide applications in horticulture crops 2017 (ST16006) which, as the name suggests, is responsible for generating data to support a range of permit applications for a range of industries. Project ST16006 uses grant funds from the Australian Government’s Agvet program, plus some levy contributions.

What’s the latest update? All current minor use permits for the industry are searchable at portal.apvma.gov.au/permits. Permit updates are also circulated in Hort Innovation’s Growing Innovation e-newsletter, which levy-paying members receive monthly. Not a member? Sign up to our membership program for free here.

Macadamia crop forecasting 2015-18 (MC15009)

Status: Ongoing project

Key research provider: The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries 

What’s it all about? This project is responsible for producing macadamia crop forecasts each year, designed to be accurate to within 10 per cent of the actual final crop. It provides a tool for improved decision-making for macadamia businesses and the wider industry, and maintains an informed, viable and sustainable industry. Long-term forecasts will also allow planning for adequate infrastructure and industry marketing well in advance.

What’s the latest update? As reported in the last edition of Hortlink, the initial 2017 crop forecast was released early in the year, indicating the year’s crop was expected to reach 54,000 tonnes in-shell (at 10 per cent) – a four per cent increase on last year’s crop. However, taking into account the effects of Cyclone Debbie and record rainfall in the Norther Rivers, in August the forecast was revised down to 47,000 tonnes in shell. The final crop figure was expected to be available to industry in late November/early December.

Other R&D projects of note…
  • Contribution to the 2nd International Macadamia Research Symposium 2017 (MC16700). This project has supported industry participation – including through four student scholarships – at the International Macadamia Research Symposium, held in Hawaii during September 2017, as well as the 2017 American Society of Horticultural Science Annual Conference. The events brought together the international research community, with learnings brought back and set to be shared for the benefit of the Australian macadamia industry – look for info through the industry communications project. At the Symposium, the scholarship-supported students presented on limitations for fruit set in macadamia; the effect of leaf whorl position on nutrient content of macadamia leaves; a rapid lab test for screening macadamia germplasm for tolerance to Phytopthora species; and trait mining for high-density macadamia planting systems.
  • Macadamia second generation breeding and conservation (MC14000), which began in 2015 to progress genetic improvement for the Australia macadamia industry. It is working to produce new cultivars that will provide the industry an advantage over its international competitors. Specifically, the project is evaluating 3555 seedling progeny already established, and aims to increase the second generation population size by 10,000. Other significant activities of the project relate to the genetic control of husk spot disease and abnormal vertical growth, evaluating alternative breeding strategies, screening rootstocks for tree size control and productivity, and determining suitable pollinisers for elite selections. For more information, an overview of project activities was provided in the Spring 2017 edition of the levy-funded industry News Bulletin, from p69.
  • Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005), which is delivering a nationally coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. It builds upon the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT12011), and includes upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators, the introduction of new elements such as Asian hornet screening and more. The surveillance is designed to enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication. The macadamia industry is one of several contributors to the project’s work.

MARKETING SNAPSHOT

THE LATEST ACTIVITY THAT’S GROWING THE INDUSTRY

Hort Innovation is responsible for investing the macadamia marketing levy into a range of activities to drive awareness and consumption, under the Hort Innovation Macadamia Fund. This activity is managed by our partner team at the Australian Macadamia Society.

In recognition of the success of the industry’s marketing program, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) has awarded Australian Macadamias the awards for Consumer Campaign of the Year and Best Small Budget Campaign for collaboration with Australia Zoo, in naming the zoo’s recently-born koala joey ‘Macadamia’ (Little Mac). The koala campaign reached an estimated local and international audience of 180 million people through traditional and social media, with the use of an Australian icon helping the news story gain traction for Australian Macadamias in key Asian export markets. Read more about the Little Mac activity here and more about the award wins here.

Recently, Australian Macadamias also gave a very Australian take on one of Asia’s most popular celebrations, the Moon Festival. Gifting Moon Cakes is an important tradition and macadamias are often used as an ingredient, with many high-end bakeries now utilising this in their creations. Content was created for social media channels which highlighted the epicentre of the Australian festival, in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta. This was shared across the Australian Weibo and WeChat channels and quickly became the most popular content, reaching almost 40,000 people. Read more here.

And locally, the Australian Macadamias Facebook community participated in a ‘Spring Picnic’ competition, with the chance to win a macadamia picnic hamper. The promotion helped to grow the subscriber database to over 16,000, and generated plenty of online content that will form the basis of future blog and social media posts.

Details of all recent marketing activities are regularly published on the Australian Macadamia Society website here.

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2017-12-07T08:38:05+00:00